Work is set to begin in less than two weeks on replacement of the Church Road bridge over Slocum Creek, but a single electric pole stands in the way.


Work is set to begin in less than two weeks on replacement of the Church Road bridge over Slocum Creek, but a single electric pole stands in the way.



“Absolutely, it could delay things,” said Michael Moore, construction manager for Palmetto Infrastructure Inc., of Greenville, S.C. Palmetto was awarded a $2.8 million contract to remove the old bridge and build a new one.



“As of right now, there is a light pole dead in the way of construction. The way the power lines crisscross right there, utility could impact everything. And that’s beyond our control,” Moore said. “All of that was supposed to be completed prior to the contract beginning. We’ve not had the response to get those utilities out of the way that we’ve wanted.”



Until the wooden pole and attached lines are removed, vital construction equipment cannot be erected, he said.



According to Dwayne Alligood, Department of Transportation District 2 engineer, the issue is being resolved.



“We’re working closely with Progress Energy on relocation of those overhead electric lines,” he said. “The way it’s looking right now, it won’t be relocated Oct. 1 but it will be soon thereafter. I don’t have an exact date on that. It is a pretty major pole and line, but what they classify that line as I don’t know.”



The project involves removal of the 1924 bridge on Church Road and construction of a new bridge that will parallel existing bridges on U.S. 70. Church Road will be reconstructed to tie in with the service road linking with the new bridge.



The old bridge is expected to stay open possibly until January.



“I’m actually looking at trying to keep Church Road open until I can make that connection to the service road,” Moore said. “I don’t know that it’s going to be possible to completely do it, but just to minimize it just as much as I can.”



If the power pole can be removed, the first step in the process is installation of erosion control devices along the edges of the work site, Moore said.



From there, work will begin on the west side of the creek.



“There is a minimal amount of clearing on the west side so we’ll knock that little bit out along with the erosion control and then we’ll move over to the east side where most of the clearing is. That’s where the new Church Road tie-in will be as well as the continuation of the service road.”



Moore said the foundation work in the creek must be completed by Feb. 15 when it would be prohibited under environmental fishery rules.



“Initially it will look like we’re stopping and starting, but the point of it is so we can get the in-water work done before the moratorium starts so we can protect the fishery,” Moore said. “Then we’ll just move around and basically build it top down from the other side working back from east to west. The point is to get that part of it done as well as being able to tie Church Road into the service road. The grading of the Church Road tie will be going on at the same time that we’re working from east to west, top down on the new bridge and that way we’ll minimize the impact to the traffic and stuff like that.”



Moore said if all goes well, demolition of the old bridge would begin in January. Saws would be used to cut the structure with a crane lifting the pieces out. He said the materials in the old bridge would be recycled. Demolition is expected to take about a month.



Moore said he expected no major impact on the creek’s boat traffic.



The new bridge will be 300 feet long. The work is expected to be noisy, Moore said.



“We’ll be running a combination of a vibratory hammer and a diesel impact hammer,” he said. “The vibratory hammer is briefly quiet but the diesel hammer is very loud. It will be a daytime activity only. Our intent is to work strictly in the daytime.”