The N.C. Department of Transportation
is about to start the second half of a project to replace 12 bridges in Johnston County. The seventh replacement in the project is scheduled to begin next week.On Monday, March 31, NCDOT will close a section of Shoeheel Road north of Selma so crews with S.T. Wooten Corp. of Wilson can replace the bridge over Long Branch. The bridge is scheduled to reopen July 13, 2014, weather permitting.This bridge is located just north of the bridge over Buffalo Creek on Shoeheel Road that NCDOT began replacing in January. Due to the close proximity of the two bridges, the bridge replacement over Long Branch will not begin until the bridge replacement over Buffalo Creek is complete.The bridge over Long Branch was constructed in 1953 and is classified as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. This means it has remained safe for use, but is in deteriorating condition and needs to be replaced. The bridge was also built to design standards that are no longer in use.Because of its condition, NCDOT posted a weight limit restricting single-axle vehicles weighing more than 16 tons and trucks weighing more than 23 tons from using the bridge. The new bridge will meet current design standards and will not have posted weight limits. Shoeheel Road will be closed to traffic with a signed detour in place. Through traffic will use Hatcher Road, N.C. 39, Old Dam Road and Bluegrass Road to travel around the construction site. Local traffic will be able to use Shoeheel Road, but will not be able to cross the bridge. As part of this contract, bridges on N.C. 96, Juniper Church Road, Benson-Hardee Road and Old Stage Road have been replaced and are now open to traffic. The bridge on Eldridge Road over Mill Creek and the bridge on Shoeheel Road over Buffalo Creek are expected to reopen next week, weather permitting. Express design-build allows construction to go from zero to completion in just eight months for each bridge. This is more efficient than traditional design-build for less complex projects that do not require additional right of way. The design-build method allows the design, environmental permitting, utility relocation and construction to take place at the same time, under one contract. This method reduces overall construction time, helps the department avoid cost inflation, allows the contractor to make innovations that save taxpayers money, lessen environmental impact and alleviate driving delays for motorists. Motorists are advised to use caution while traveling in the area and to expect delays. NCDOT reminds motorists to watch signs for construction information, stay alert and obey the posted speed limit. For real-time travel information at any time, call 511, visit www.ncdot.gov/travel or follow NCDOT on Twitter at www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter. Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. To access it, type "m.ncdot.gov" into the browser of your smartphone. Then, bookmark it to save for future reference. NCDOT Mobile is compatible with the iPhone, Android and some newer Blackberry phones.