JONATHAN CREEK – The N.C. Department of Transportation opened all four lanes of Interstate 40 in the Pigeon River Gorge on Friday morning after a winter with traffic in a one-lane pattern in each direction for two miles.
Crews from Kiewit Construction, a contractor for NCDOT, successfully completed all tasks on phase one of one bridge, and they are ahead of schedule on replacing another bridge in this stretch.
Operations on the westbound side of the “low bridge” are complete and the eastbound operations are on schedule.
Operations to replace the old “high bridge” are on schedule as well.
“Crews had a very productive winter season, about as productive you can possibly be,” NCDOT Resident Engineer Nathan Tanner said. “We accomplished a great deal to replace on first phase of the low bridge and completed things on schedule on the high bridge.”
The 57-year-old westbound low bridge, at mile marker 18 over White Oak Road, has been replaced with a new structure built to modern standards, including wider shoulders and better drainage in the median.
“It should last for generations,” Tanner said. “The continuous lane closure through the winter saved months, maybe years, off the total time it would take to replace these bridges.”
The high bridge, at mile marker 19 over White Oak Road and Jonathan Creek, is also being replaced but with two structures — one for each direction. Crews have already excavated the site, built a soil-nail wall, drilled shafts and columns, and positioned the team for a productive summer.
“This summer, we’re going to focus all our efforts on the high bridge,” Tanner said. “Drivers will see crews starting to build a separate structure.”
These necessary replacement are part of a five-bridge project, the first of its kind in the state administered in a new method with the intent of forming a partnership between NCDOT, the contractor and the design team. The Construction Manager/General Contractor method is designed to expedite delivery from the first step in the design phase to the last inspection. Kiewit earned the contract for $84.3 million.