Asheville - The N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a pair of contracts worth $7.2 million to replace 11 bridges in Caldwell and Wilkes counties. The projects are part of the state bridge program that targets structures in need of rehabilitation or replacement.
The 2015 budget signed by Governor McCrory included funding to replace 540 bridges across the state. Infrastructure improvements such as bridge replacements are part of Governor McCrory's 25-year transportation vision to better connect North Carolinians to jobs, education, healthcare and recreation.
A $4.4 million contract with Mountain Creek Contractors in Catawba calls for the replacement of six bridges in Wilkes County and one in Caldwell County.
The bridge to be replaced in Caldwell County is on Old Johns River Road and crosses Elijah Estes Mill Creek. Three bridges in Wilkes County are on Longbottom Road and cross Dungeon Creek each time. Two bridges cross Little Creek on Casey's Branch Road, and one crosses West Palm Roaring River on Shumate Mountain Road.
The other contract was awarded R.E. Burns & Sons Company of Statesville at a cost of $2.8 million. It will replace one bridge in Caldwell County and three in Wilkes County.
The bridge in Caldwell County runs on Georgetown Road over Zacks Fork Creek. One bridge in Wilkes County crosses Tucker Hole Creek on Congo Road, while the two others cross Moravian Creek on Lowe Creek Road, and cross Cub Creek on Meadows Road.
Both contracts allow work to start as early as June 27 and could take until November of 2018 to wrap up. The contractors will have to schedule around the state trout moratorium, which doesn't allow work to be done within 25 feet of a watershed holding naturally reproducing trout between April 15 and October 15.
Both contracts are being done under the express-design process, which is more efficient than the usual manner in which bridges are built. It allows the design, environmental permitting, utility relocation and construction to take place at the same time. This method reduces overall construction time, helps avoid cost inflation, allows the contractor to make innovations that save taxpayer's money, lessens environmental impacts and alleviates driving delays for motorists. This was one of 16 road and bridge project contracts awarded by the Department of Transportation, worth about $96 million. That was about $3 million under the estimates of DOT engineers, money that can be used toward other projects. The contracts were awarded to the lowest qualified bidders as required by state law.
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