The NC Department of Transportation will spend an estimated $12.5 million to replace two bridges on Interstate 95 in Johnston County next year. The DOT will award bid this Fall for replacement of both the north and southbound bridges over the Little River south of Kenly. Due to a moratorium for the river, work can not begin until the Spring of 2016, according to Jennifer G. Heiss, Communications Officer with the NC DOT.
The current bridges are two lanes wide each, and were both built in 1956. They are each classified as both Structurally Deficient and Functionally Obsolete.
Structurally deficient bridges have load carrying components in poor condition due to deterioration. These bridges are safe. However, they require significant maintenance to remain in service, and limits on vehicle weights may be required. To fully address the issues on a structurally deficient bridge, extensive rehabilitation or replacement is usually required.
Functionally obsolete bridges no longer meet the demands of the traffic using them. These bridges are safe but need to be improved or replaced due to narrow lanes, low height clearances, or have posted weight limits.
The new southbound bridge will be built wide enough to accommodate four lanes in the future and the new northbound bridge will be built wide enough to accommodate five lanes in the future. The reason why the northbound bridge will be a lane wider is so that it can also accommodate the on-ramp from a nearby exit at this location. Currently the on-ramp is quite short and ends just before the Little River Bridge. By extending the ramp on the new bridge, it will give drivers more room to merge on to I-95, Heiss said.
During construction, traffic on both north and south I-95 will continue to use the existing bridges. Construction will take place in two phases. During the first phase, the outer half of the new bridges will be constructed while traffic remains in its current pattern across the existing bridges. Once the new outside halves of the bridges are constructed, traffic will be shifted to the new bridges. Then crews will demolish the existing bridges and build the remaining inner halves of the new bridges. With the exception of some occasional lane closures, no major traffic impacts are anticipated, Heiss added.