Ahoskie Creek bridge to be replaced

Published 10:30 am Thursday, April 7, 2016

Traffic crosses the NC 42 bridge over the Ahoskie Creek. That span will be replaced with work scheduled to begin on April 18. | Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Traffic crosses the NC 42 bridge over the Ahoskie Creek. That span will be replaced with work scheduled to begin on April 18. | Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

AHOSKIE – Motorists using NC 42 to travel to and from Ahoskie on its southwest side will soon be faced with a six-month detour.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has announced the closing of NC 42 at the Ahoskie Creek (southwest of Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital) in order to replace a bridge.

Scott Emory, District Field Engineer with the DOT Division One office in Ahoskie, said the closure will begin on Monday, April 18. He anticipates the work to be completed and the new bridge opened by Oct. 1.

The detour, which will be marked, will utilize NC 561 (First Street in Ahoskie) and NC 11. Emory said the contractor – Palmetto Infrastructure, Inc. – will have electronic message boards in place by the end of this week on both side of the bridge.

“Those message boards will serve as a countdown as to the number of days remaining until the project begins on April 18,” Emory said. “We are encouraging all motorists to use the marked detour route around the site in order to keep the heavy traffic, especially heavy trucks, off the secondary roads.”

As expected, the detour will add travel time to those who use that route into and out of Ahoskie. That added time will also impact emergency responders and bus routes for Hertford County Public Schools.

“We have been aware of this project for several months now and we have addressed it internally within our department,” said Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh. “The Ahoskie town limits extends just west of the bridge, so those living in that area can expect a minor delay in our response should we have a call in that area. We ask those residents for their understanding and their patience, and we want to ensure them that we will continue to patrol that area of town.”

Fitzhugh also encouraged local motorists to use the marked detours and to plan ahead because their travel time to and from Ahoskie will be slightly increased.

Ahoskie Fire Chief Ken Dilday noted that the most recent annexation approved by the Town Council extended the town’s borders on NC 42 west, now nearly reaching the Cornerstone Christian Book Store.

“This bridge closure will most definitely slow our response time should a call arise in that area of town. But we want the citizens there to know that we’ll get there just as quickly as possible,” Dilday promised.

As far as Hertford County law enforcement answering calls on the west side of the bridge, Sheriff Juan Vaughan said the closure will add to the response time.

“That time depends on where our cars are at when a call comes in. If that car is on NC 42 on the hospital side of the bridge and a call comes in for our response to a situation, say in the Poortown area, then it’s going to take us a bit more driving time to answer that call,” Vaughan stressed. “Just be patient.”

The same applies to Hertford County EMS.

“Closing the NC 42 bridge will affect our response times; we’ll have to detour around it,” stated Chris Smith, Hertford County’s Director of Emergency Management. “The ones that it will most adversely affect will be the residents that live just west of the bridge.”

Smith said he has sent out the closure notification and the detour route to all emergency responders in the county.

First Sgt. Mike Warren of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, whose Ahoskie office is roughly a mile west of the NC 42 bridge, said the closure will not have a big impact.

“It will affect fire and rescue more than us because they are typically the first to arrive on an accident scene and then we’re called to respond,” Warren said. “Our biggest concern is the traffic flow. We would encourage motorists to follow the marked detours.”

Emory said the bridge now in place was constructed in the early 1960’s and is at the end of its normal life expectancy.

“It’s time to replace that bridge,” he said. “The new one will be a lot safer as it will replace one that was constructed with 1960’s technology. The new bridge will be roughly three feet higher and one lane wider.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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