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Bonner’s Bridge Road reopens

AHOSKIE – The wait is over.

Nearly 15 months after it was closed for maintenance, the span over the Ahoskie Creek on Bonner’s Bridge Road has reopened.

Department of Transportation (DOT) workers removed the barricades shortly after 3 p.m. on Tuesday. That came on the heels of a final inspection of the new bridge by a DOT engineer.

The original plans called for the bridge to close for just one month, beginning March 17, 2004.

Ronald Terry, Bridge Maintenance Supervisor with the DOT office in Union, said the decision to close the bridge came after the discovery it was settling. Terry stated the bridge, constructed in 1975, had settled five-to-six inches, causing a &uot;pretty big dip&uot; in the span.

Terry noted that the problem was traced to the interior pilings. He said floodwaters over the years had apparently compromised the pilings.

However, there was a larger problem looming.

Thirteen days after its closing, workers apparently punctured a natural gas line under the bridge. The gas escaping from the 870-pound, high-pressure line, buried some 20 feet under the creek bed, was so intense that it undermined the pilings holding the bridge, causing it to collapse.

DOT officials solicited bids for repairs. When they were opened, state DOT officials realized, from a financial standpoint, it would cost-effective to replace the bridge rather than making repairs.

That sent everything back to the drawing board where the job was re-bided, thus slowing the process to re-open the entire length of Bonner’s Bridge Road.

Approximately two miles long, Bonner’s Bridge Road is a popular shortcut route around Ahoskie. It provides quick access to NC 11, NC 561 and NC 42.