Dirt work on a bridge replacement project just north of Cherokee Road near Caledonia has started. County engineer Bob Calvert said the project should be completed by the end of the year. Wolfe Road has been closed between Cherokee Road and McCullough Road since mid-July. Photo by: Slim Smith/Dispatch Staff
September 25, 2020 10:23:14 AM
Chances are few people have been more directly affected by the bridge replacement project on Wolfe Road near Caledonia than Frank Lockhart.
When the $950,000 project to replace the bridge started in July just a few hundred feet north of Lockhart's home, a straight shot to town became a four-mile detour to the west.
Wolfe Road is closed between Cherokee Road and McCullough Road.
"It hasn't been too bad, really," Lockhart said. "Half of the (old) bridge was made of brick, so that part was probably built back in the 1920s. At some point, they rebuilt the other half of it with concrete, but rebuilding the whole bridge is something they've needed to do for a long time. I'm glad to see it. It looks like they're making pretty good progress."
The bridge replacement had long been on the county's radar. Two years ago, it was one of three projects the county submitted when the state authorized $250 million as part of its Emergency Road and Bridge Repair fund.
When that project was not approved, the county turned to federal funding, securing the funds needed through an 80/20 match, with state-aid funds covering roughly $200,000 of the matching cost. The project requires no county funding.
"This is something we knew we wanted to do," County Engineer Bob Calvert said. "It's a high-traffic road, probably a couple thousand cars per day."
The project has a 120-day build in the contract, which doesn't include weekends, holidays or work days lost to weather.
With good weather, especially in late summer, the project is progressing nicely, Calvert said.
"It was a box bridge (a concrete bridge whose shape resembles a hollow box), so those are a little less complicated," he said.
As of this week, the concrete work had been completed and the dirt work is well underway.
"They are pretty much on schedule," Calvert said. "They're doing dirt work now and after that, they'll start building the approaches and paving work. Provided the weather isn't too bad, we should have the road opened by the end of the year."
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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