RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Transportation will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 17, in Hertford regarding a project focused on providing a reliable, safe and direct connection from downtown Hertford to Winfall and northern Perquimans County.
The existing causeway on U.S. 17 Business/N.C. 37 from Church Street in Hertford to N.C. 37 in Winfall is settling unevenly due to unstable soil under the roadway. In addition, the "S-Bridge" over the Perquimans River is also weakening due to age and is considered outdated by federal safety standards. NCDOT is proposing to reconstruct the causeway and replace the bridge.
NCDOT staff will seek input from residents regarding the project at the public hearing, which will be held at the Perquimans County Recreation Department, located at 310 Granby Street in Hertford. The hearing will have the following format:
Open house: 4:30 -6:30 p.m.
Formal presentation: 7 -7:30 p.m.
Time for questions and answers.
NCDOT held a workshop in August 2012 for this project where seven design alternatives were presented to the public. In October 2012 those alternatives were narrowed down to three, which were then included in the final Environmental Assessment (EA) approved in February 2013.
During the open house portion of this month's hearing, attendees will be able to come by at any time and talk with NCDOT personnel one-on-one about the project. The formal presentation will include an explanation of the location and design for each alternative, as well as information about requirements and procedures. The opportunity to submit written comments will be provided throughout the hearing.
A final alternative will then be determined by a team of state and federal agencies based on public input, project costs and local impacts.
History and Project Need
The existing swing-span bridge was built in 1929, and is classified as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. This does not mean that the bridge is unsafe, rather that it requires repairs and was built to design standards no longer used for bridges. The bridge costs approximately $60,000 a year to maintain and has had several temporary repairs. It has been determined that rehabilitating the existing bridge is neither practical nor safe.
Because of the condition of the bridge, NCDOT posted a weight limit restricting single-axle vehicles weighing more than 17 tons and trucks weighing more than 24 tons from using the bridge. The final project will meet current design standards and will not have posted weight limits.
The causeway north of the bridge has been damaged by settling of the earth under the road. The damage has caused multiple closures, each lasting several weeks while crews made repairs. NCDOT has spent approximately $1.275 million in the past five years on repairs to the causeway.
The project alternatives are as follows:
Alternative B -15' Swing-Span Bridge
Construct a new swing-span bridge parallel to the existing bridge to the northeast. This replaces the existing causeway with a new, low, fixed structure in the same location.
15 feet of clearance above the water allows 75 percent of boats to pass under the swing span without it needing to open, resulting in lower maintenance costs and a longer bridge life.
This alternative would impact one home.
Alternative D -Modified 33' Fixed-Span Bridge
Construct a new fixed-span bridge to the east of the existing bridge.
Avoids retaining walls on Church Street but removes the bridge and changes the view from the Histo