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Boone gives new bridge ‘test drive’

CONWAY—On a snowy morning Ruth S. Boone gave a “thumbs-up” approval as she crossed the soon-to-be completed Sykes Mill/Kirby Creek Bridge on NC 35 near here.

On Friday, Boone, of Conway, climbed into her late husband’s white pick-up truck and became the first local resident to officially cross the new bridge.

Taking a leisurely drive across the bridge one way and then returning back the other, Boone stopped only to give a smile and a “thumbs-up” to her daughter, Georgia.

“It was a really good feeling to cross it and not feel like it was going to fall in behind you,” Boone quipped.

Though the bridge is not officially open to the public, Department of Transportation (DOT) officials allowed Boone to take the maiden drive at the request of her daughter.

According to DOT Resident Engineer Scott Emory, the new $2.7 million bridge had its final inspection Friday.

Emory said after a few nominal items are taken care of, the bridge is expected to be officially reopened by Wednesday (November 26) of next week.

Work on the span, done by S.T. Wooten Corp. of Wilson, began on May 5 in order to replace the former aging bridge that was several decades old.

Of the improvements motorists can expect to find is the width of the bridge. Emory said the former bridge was approximately 23 feet wide while the new bridge is 36 feet wide.

Emory said he believes the width of the new bridge will prove to be more “user friendly” for motorists and farmers utilizing the road to move their equipment.

Boone seems to have the same opinion. Her late-husband was a farmer and she said she knows of one neighboring farmer in the area that will be “tickled to death” about the new bridge. Boone, whose farm is located near the bridge, watched the nearly 7-month process to replace the link on the road that serves as a vital route between the area and Virginia.

For years she has observed the bridge, witnessing the good and even the tragedies.

In the end, the vigilant citizen is happy the new bridge is in place.

“It’s a beautiful bridge,” she said.