TIP Project R-4467 involves improvements along U.S. 17 Business/N.C. 37 from the South end of the Perquimans River bridge 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 S-Bridge (Bridge No. 8) across the Perquimans River is weakening due to its age. The purpose of this project is to continue to provide a reliable direct connection from downtown Hertford to Winfall and northern Perquimans County.
News and Updates
Public Meeting Scheduled
Following a public hearing in September 2013, NCDOT selected Alternative D-Mod 33’ Fixed-Span Bridge as the preferred alternative. The Hertford Town Council asked NCDOT to attend the July 2014 Council Meeting to answer citizen questions about Alternative D-Mod. NCDOT presented 3D graphics of the Alternative D-Mod design at this meeting. Following the Council Meeting, NCDOT received requests to present similar information for Alternative B 15’ Swing-Span Bridge. NCDOT has developed 3D graphics for Alternative B in response to these requests. In addition, more detailed surveys were completed this summer, and NCDOT has refined the designs of both alternatives, further reducing impacts in the Hertford Historic District. A public meeting has been scheduled to present current designs and 3D graphics of both alternatives. There will also be an opportunity to discuss possible enhancements NCDOT might make to the appearance of the new bridge. Interested citizens may attend at any time between 5 pm and 7 pm. A presentation with question and answer session will begin at 5:30 p.m. NCDOT representatives will be available to answer questions and gather public input regarding potential enhancements around the proposed project.
|Date: ||Thursday, November 13, 2014|
|Time: ||5:00 – 7:00 p.m., with a presentation at 5:30 p.m.|
|Location: ||Perquimans County Community Center (310 Granby Street, Hertford)|
|Purpose: ||To present refined designs for Alternative B 15’ Swing Span Bridge and Alternative D-Mod 33’ Fixed Span Bridge|
NCDOT Preferred Alternative Selected
Following the September 17, 2013 public hearing in Hertford, NCDOT selected Alternative D-Mod 33’ Fixed Span Bridge as its preferred alternative. This alternative was one of three presented at the public hearing. Safety, cost, traffic service, social impacts, and public comments were all considered during this determination. Following the November 13th public meeting, NCDOT will complete coordination with other state and federal agencies regarding the preferred alternative and prepare the final environmental document.
The next step is for NCDOT to complete coordination with other agencies on the alternative selection. NCDOT will then 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 spring 2015).
Final design for the project will begin following completion of the SFONSI. Right of way acquisition and construction are scheduled for 2016 and 2018, respectively, in the current 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 1 out of a possible 100. A sufficiency rating of 1 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 under the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968. 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 $1,275,000 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 (see above), two meetings with small groups, and Citizens Informational Workshops in April 2010, June 2011 and August 2012. 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 is following 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 will make decisions as a group and reach agreement on key aspects of the project, including final selection of the preferred alternative. Click here for additional information on the merger process.
Alternatives Development Process
As part of the SEPA process, the project team carefully considers potential alternatives. Alternatives are compared based on quantitative and qualitative analysis, public input, and agency input. For this project, NCDOT has 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. Therefore, if rehabilitated, the bridge would have to be converted to one-way traffic. Opposing traffic would be 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 and a Merger Process meeting in January 2014, Alternative D-Mod 33’ Fixed-Span Bridge has been selected by NCDOT as the preferred alternative for this project.
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.