Saturday, April 13, 2024

NCDOT to reopen Castle Hayne bridge over Smith Creek 2 years after it closed

A Castle Hayne bridge over Smith Creek has been shut down to traffic since 2021 when a container truck crashed into the steel truss. After demolishing the old structure and building anew, NCDOT will celebrate its reopening Tuesday. (Courtesy Google Earth)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Two-and-a-half years after a truck crashed into a bridge in Castle Hayne, permanently shutting down the route, traffic will begin flowing again Tuesday.

READ MORE: NCDOT will replace Castle Hayne Road bridge this summer

In May 2021, a container truck wrecked into the steel truss bridge over Smith Creek, closing the structure. Drivers have been using N.C. 133 and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway as a detour.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation was in the planning stages of replacing the bridge at the time and decided to accelerate its timeline instead of paying for costly repairs.

Originally expected to be authorized in April 2022, the project was moved up 10 months following the accident. NCDOT spokesperson Lauren Haviland said the schedule change did not impact any other planned projects.

Civil Contracting LLC demolished the bridge in November 2021 after receiving a $3.9 million state contract for the bridge rebuild.

Tuesday, state and local officials will celebrate the Smith Creek Bridge’s reopening at 1200 Castle Hayne Road.

The new two-lane bridge will be 15 feet longer than the previous, at 263 feet up from 248. The former 14-foot vertical vehicular clearance no longer exists, and water navigation clearance remains at 8 feet.

The horizontal clearance for water navigation nearly doubled, from 45 feet to 97.4 feet to accommodate boats.

The new bridge was also widened to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian paths. There are now 7-foot and 5-foot bicycle lanes and a 5-foot sidewalk.

The 1930s steel truss bridge was constructed by T.A. Loving Company, completed in December 1931. According to NCDOT, the bridge is one of the earliest and most complete examples of a swing-span bridge in the state.

A swing-span bridge rotates on a horizontal plane around a vertical axis to allow vessels to pass through. The operator house and controls had been replaced over the years, but the structure had retained its original gearing and mechanical systems prior to demolition.

NCDOT replaced its deck and stringers in 1962 and strengthened the floor beams with welded beams in 1982 but the structure remained largely original.

Prior to it being taken down, roughly 2,700 vehicles crossed the bridge daily.

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