Bridge replacement detours US 13 traffic

Published 10:10am Sunday, November 3, 2013

WINDSOR – Motorists using a major thoroughfare through the heart of the Roanoke-Chowan area will face soon face a seven-month-long detour.

Beginning on Wednesday (Nov. 6), the N.C. Department of Transportation will begin replacing an aging bridge on U.S. 13 over the Cashie River just north of Windsor.

In the long term, the new bridge is touted to improve access for area residents to jobs, education and healthcare centers. However, in the short term, it means longer commutes for those using that route on a regular basis.

William Ledford, Director of Transportation for Bertie County Public Schools, said the detour around the construction site will delay the pick-up and drop-off times of students residing north of the bridge.

“It will increase commute times slightly; that’s the only headache I see,” Ledford said. “The good thing is that we have veteran drivers who have seen their fair share of detours over the years for one reason or the other. They can handle this one.”

US 13 is typically heavy with school bus and school-related traffic on weekdays mornings and afternoons. Bertie High School and Bertie Middle School are both located approximately two miles north of the bridge replacement site.

Mitch Cooper, Bertie County’s Director of Emergency Management, said he has met with all emergency responders – to include the Sheriff’s Office, EMS, and the Windsor Fire Department – concerning the detour of this major highway.

“Each department has addressed their concerns about the added response times,” Cooper said. “To cut down on those response times, we will look to use Hoggard Mill Road to maneuver around the construction area. Hoggard Mill will be quicker than state’s recommended detour route.”

Cooper added that the Windsor Fire Department, for calls in their district north of the bridge, have a back-up plan.

“All of our fire departments here in Bertie County have mutual aid agreements with the departments closest to them,” Cooper said. “In Windsor’s case, they will still respond to calls north of the bridge construction site, and Askewville (Fire Department) will be paged out as well.”

The main detour route will use U.S. 13, School Road, N.C. 308 and the U.S. 13/U.S. 17 Bypass to travel around the construction site. Those motorists familiar with the “lay of the land” in Bertie County may opt to use Hoggard Mill Road, which runs east and parallel to US 13.

The detour also makes travel, from the south, more time consuming to and from Edgewood Cemetery, located just north of the bridge. The cemetery is owned and maintained by the Town of Windsor.

The new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic by June 3, 2014.

A $2.2 million contract was awarded in June to Carolina Bridge Co. Inc. of Orangeburg, S.C. for the project, which includes replacing the 24 foot-wide, two-lane bridge with a 36 foot-wide, two-lane bridge. The new bridge will include two, 12 foot-wide lanes and six foot-wide shoulders on each side. The current bridge has two 12-foot-wide lanes and no shoulders.

The current bridge, constructed in 1924, is classified as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. This means that while the bridge remains safe, it requires repairs and was built to design standards no longer used for bridges. It needs to be replaced to meet current and future traffic demands.

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