The new service road bridge over Slocum Creek in Havelock could be open by the middle of May, rather than late summer, according to an official.
Brad McMannen, division 2 assistant resident engineer in the New Bern office of the N.C. Department of Transportation, said a month-long delay at the start of construction hasn’t been a huge hindrance to construction workers.
Though DOT officials initially expected a late-summer opening, the construction contract on the bridge calls for Palmetto Construction to complete work and have the bridge open by May 15.
McMannen said he did not think that would be a problem.
"They’ve driven piles on one bent on the west side of the creek. They plan on next week driving piles on the east side of the creek," McMannen said. "They are trying to get all the in-water piles in before Feb. 15 before the in-water moratorium comes into effect.
"Any part of the work that touches water, because of a fish moratorium, they can’t do it after Feb. 15."
The removal of power lines and poles initially caused a delay in the start of construction of the bridge in October. However, work has continued at the site nearly around the clock since, with dirt being brought in to help shore up the east side of the creek the most noticeable addition up to now.
The 325-foot long, two-lane bridge will have a four-foot-wide bike and pedestrian lane and link the service road from just east of the Hampton Inn to just west of Tim Newton Auto Sales. The new bridge replaces a 1924-era concrete span along Church Road. Church Road will be permanently rerouted to meet with the service road east of the creek near the old Wendy’s restaurant.
The old bridge — the site of two fatal crashes in 2012, one of which occurred just four days before the bridge’s schedule closure in October — is scheduled to be demolished early next year.
As for construction of the new bridge, the pilings are vibrated halfway down into the creek’s bottom and then pounded down to the specified depth.
The new bridge is a core-slab construction, built in six spans that consist of five 50-foot sections and one 75-foot section stretching across the Slocum Creek channel. The core slabs are pre-cast and then trucked in to the site.
McMannen said workers have been removing mucky and unstable material and bringing in sandy material that will be suitable for the roadbed.
The new path for Church Road has been cut through the woods. Soon, a concrete box culvert will be installed and a new roadbed constructed using material taken from the old causeway leading to the old bridge.
The elevation will be returned to match the natural grade that exists on either side of the old causeway.
Palmetto Construction, from Greenville, S.C., won the DOT bid to construct the new bridge and remove the old bridge for $2.8 million.
The old bridge was Havelock’s oldest and continuously listed among DOT’s worst bridges in Craven County.