The purpose of this project (R-4467) is to continue to provide a reliable, direct connection from downtown Hertford to Winfall and northern Perquimans County. The project includes improvements along U.S. 17 Business/N.C. 37 from the south end of the Perquimans River bridge in Hertford to the intersection of U.S. 17 Business and N.C. 37 in Winfall, a distance of approximately 0.4 mile. The existing causeway is settling unevenly due to poor soils under the roadway, and the bridge across the Perquimans River, known as the “S-Bridge” is weakening due to its age.
News and Updates
Project Alternative Selected
Alternative D-Mod has been selected as the preferred alternative for the replacement of the S-bridge. In January 2015 the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)/Section 404 merger team for the project determined that since all three design alternatives had the exact same amount of wetland impacts, the project should be taken out of the merger process. Following this action, the department decided to proceed with its selected preferred alternative.
Alternative D-Mod includes constructing a fixed-span bridge with 33 feet of clearance over the water and would tie into Church Street near the existing bridge. The bridge is currently estimated to cost approximately $19 million. Right-of-way acquisition would begin in Fiscal Year 2017 with construction scheduled for FY 2019.
The decision to proceed with this design was made at the end of an alternatives development process that began in September 2007. This design was originally chosen as the preferred alternative out of three possible designs that were presented at a public hearing in September 2013. The other designs included: Alternative B, a 15-foot, swing-span bridge next to the location of the current bridge; and Alternative E, a 33-foot, fixed-span bridge that would end west of the existing bridge, at Edenton Road Street. A map showing these three designs can be found here.
Both of the fixed-span bridge alternatives in the final selection process had the same clearance above the water as the U.S. 17 Bypass bridge, so as not to limit boat traffic through this channel.
Why Was This Alternative Selected?
Alternative D-Mod was selected for several reasons, including the following:
- Does not change current travel patterns through downtown Hertford;
- Does not increase traffic on Edenton Road Street, which was a concern of Alternative E due to potential impacts to residents and a high school;
- Has less overall effect to the town of Hertford as a whole than Alternative E;
- Would require closing the existing route for the shortest period of time. Most of the bridge can be constructed without closing the existing bridge;
- Would require less maintenance than a swing-span bridge;
- Does not require a bridge tender and therefore;
- Has the lowest construction and operation/maintenance cost compared to the other alternatives and is the most fiscally-responsible design.
The next step is for NCDOT to prepare the State Finding of No Significant Impact (SFONSI), which will document the final decision. The approved SFONSI will be posted to the project website (anticipated summer 2015).
Final design for the project will begin following completion of the SFONSI. Right of way acquisition and construction are scheduled for 2017 and 2019, respectively, in the draft State Transportation Improvement Program.
Project Overview and Purpose
The purpose of this project is to continue to provide a direct, reliable route between downtown Hertford and the town of Winfall. The current route is experiencing significant deterioration and ongoing maintenance problems, jeopardizing its ability to provide reliable direct connectivity. The existing swing-span bridge was built in 1929 and has a sufficiency rating of one out of a possible 100. A sufficiency rating of one does not indicate the bridge is unsafe because it evaluates the bridge in the un-shored condition, but does qualify the bridge to be repaired or replaced. The bridge costs approximately $60,000 a year to maintain, and was temporarily shored with steel crutch bents in 2007 and concrete jackets in 2008.
The causeway north of the bridge has been damaged by settling of the earth under the road. It has been closed several times in the past few years. In each case, the failure resulted in the roadway collapsing, requiring the causeway to be closed for several weeks each time for repair. NCDOT has spent approximately $1.3 million in the past five years on repairs to the causeway.
Public involvement is an important part of the project development process. NCDOT encourages citizen involvement with transportation projects and will consider public suggestions and address their concerns. NCDOT has reached out to the public through newsletters and postcards, two meetings with small groups, and citizens informational workshops/public meetings in April 2010, June 2011, August 2012 and November 2014. A public hearing was held in September 2013.
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Project Development Process
The U.S. 17 Business/N.C. 37 Improvements Project is a state-funded project. Any agency that proposes a project involving state funds must comply with the North Carolina State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). SEPA is a law that requires state-funded projects to consider the environmental impacts of their proposals. A major part of the SEPA process is the preparation of an environmental document. Normally, a state environmental assessment would have been prepared for a state-funded project. In the case of this project, it was originally anticipated right of way acquisition and construction would be federally-funded and a federal environmental assessment (EA) was completed in February 2013. However, NCDOT management, in conjunction with the General Assembly, has decided to fund the majority of the Bridge Replacement Program with state funds. This is one of the projects that has had its funding source shifted. No federal funds will be used. Therefore, a state final environmental document will now be completed for the project.
This project followed the NEPA/Section 404 Merger Process. The merger process combines portions of the Section 404 (of the Clean Water Act) permitting process with the SEPA decision making process. The merger process is a formalized agency participation program that streamlines the development of a project. A merger team, consisting of NCDOT, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the N.C. Division of Water Quality and other federal and state agencies made decisions as a group and reached agreement on key aspects of the project. The merger team dissolved in January 2015 after all agencies agreed that the project alternatives had the exact same amount of wetland impacts and therefore, the project should be taken out of the merger process. Click here for additional information on the merger process.
Alternatives Development Process
The project team carefully considers potential project design alternatives as part of the SEPA process. Alternatives are compared based on quantitative and qualitative analysis, public input and agency input. For this project, NCDOT screened a combination of six bridge types on seven alignments. These were narrowed down to nine concepts to present to the public in April 2010.
It has been determined that rehabilitating the existing swing-span bridge is neither practical nor safe. A bridge rail would have to be added to the bridge to meet current safety standards. The existing bridge is too narrow to add the rail and still maintain two lanes of traffic. If rehabilitated, the bridge would have to be converted to one-way traffic, with opposing traffic routed along the U.S. 17 Bypass.
Following the April 2010 citizens informational workshop and a merger process meeting in October 2010, five alternatives were selected for more detailed study and were presented at the June 2011 citizens informational workshop. An additional two alternatives were presented at the August 2012 Citizens Informational Workshop. In October 2012, NCDOT and the merger team chose three alternatives to be analyzed in the environmental document, which were shown at the September 2013 public hearing. Following the public hearing, Alternative D-Mod 33’ Fixed-Span Bridge was selected by NCDOT as the preferred alternative for this project.
Following a July 2014 Hertford Town Council meeting at which NCDOT attended and answered questions regarding Alternative D-Mod, the department was asked to provide additional information regarding Alternative B. More detailed surveys were completed and NCDOT refined the designs of both alternatives, further reducing impacts in the Hertford Historic District. NCDOT representatives presented the updated designs and project maps for both alternatives at a public meeting in November 2014.
Following the January 2015 Merger Team meeting, NCDOT decided to proceed with its selected preferred alternative, Alternative D-Mod.
Environmental Assessment Completed
The Environmental Assessment for Project R-4467 was completed in February 2013. For a copy of the document, click on the links below.
Joseph Miller, P.E.
NCDOT Project Planning Engineer
Teresa Gresham, P.E.
Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
Resources for Local Property Owners
In many cases, it is inevitable that a certain amount of private property must be acquired. The displacement of homes and businesses is minimized to the extent practicable. The following brochures will answer questions about this process.