RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a contract to replace the bridge on Balfour Road over Raft Swamp near Red Springs. The bridge, which was built in 1951, is considered structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. The bridge is still safe, but needs to be replaced to meet current and future traffic demands. The new bridge will not be subject to load restrictions and will accommodate all traffic, including trucks and emergency vehicles.The $682,078 contract was awarded to Smith-Rowe, LLC of Mount Airy. The bridge replacement can begin as early as March 31 and is scheduled for completion of all but landscaping Sept. 1. Final completion is March 2, 2015.This project is an important investment in the long term viability of the state's transportation network and will help improve the overall health of the local infrastructure. This is one of the 17 road and bridge contracts worth $32.2 million recently awarded by NCDOT for projects across North Carolina. The contracts were awarded to the lowest bidders, as required by state law. The low bids received on the projects were 8.5 percent, or almost $3 million below NCDOT estimates.