Rain has delayed the completion of a new bridge on Linville Road and the related reopening of that roadway to traffic.
Under the original construction schedule for the project, work to erect the bridge over the Ararat River near the Riverside Drive intersection was to begin on June 1 and end on Oct. 29.
During that time, Linville Road — a key entry point to Mount Airy from the east — has been closed to through traffic, requiring motorists to detour around the work site.
However, Mother Nature apparently has had her own idea about when the construction, and detour, should end. More than a two-week delay in the original timetable has resulted, according to a local official of the N.C. Department of Transportation.
“Our contractor hopes to have the bridge complete and reopened by Nov. 16,” DOT District Engineer Brandon Whitaker added. But even that date, provided at the end of last week, was subject to the weather cooperating, and rain was prevalent at the start of this week.
A person at the site Thursday afternoon said paving work might begin there today.
“The extremely wet weather we have had for the last several weeks has delayed the completion of this work,” Whitaker pointed out when discussing how the rain overall has affected the bridge construction and the reopening of Linville Road.
Drivers long relying on that road as a link between Flat Rock and Mount Airy have been forced to use Riverside Drive (N.C. 104) and East Pine Street (N.C. 103) as alternate routes to get around in the area during the construction.
However, the new bridge should be worth the wait.
The old bridge, built in 1963, was considered structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. While it remained safe, its condition was deteriorating, and had weight limits restricting the type of vehicles able to traverse the structure.
Officials have said the new bridge will reflect modern design standards and not have the weight restrictions of the former structure. Its replacement is part of an overall program by the DOT to improve the condition of the state’s bridges.
Smith-Rowe, LLC, of Mount Airy, a construction company that specializes in bridge replacements, is the contractor for the Linville Road work.
The company was awarded a $10.3 million contract that included replacing a total of 12 bridges in Surry and Yadkin counties.
Plans for the new bridge also had benefits for bicyclists and pedestrians built in, including the providing of bike lanes at the site along with a 5.5-foot sidewalk on the structure’s northern side.
Another benefit involves inserts being fitted into the new bridge to accommodate the future installation of a water line. This means a 12-inch ductile iron pipe can be positioned along the bridge, rather than buried underneath it, which city officials believe will facilitate hookups to water customers on the other side of the river.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.