Almost a year has passed since Lincoln County’s flooding disaster last summer, which resulted in multiple road closures and infrastructure damage. While the North Carolina Department of Transportation has addressed most of the county’s storm damage, some local residents are concerned by the lack of visible progress made at the Beam Lumber Road site in Vale.
The Times-News previously reported that the Beam Lumber Road bridge was completely destroyed during the flooding. According to NCDOT Communications Officer Jordan-Ashley Baker, the bridge, constructed in 1965, provided transportation access across Indian Creek.
“In Lincoln County, this bridge was one of 15 total sites, either roads or bridges, which were damaged due to the flooding last summer,” she said.
“Of those 15 sites, 14 have already been repaired, with this site being the final one in the county needing repairs. Out of all the sites, this was by far the most extensive.”
While no visible progress has been made at the site, Baker said NCDOT is working diligently to replace the bridge.
“Normally, when we have a bridge replacement project, if we were to replace a bridge that had ended its traditional lifespan, that process in and of itself could take anywhere from 18 months up to two or three years,” she said.
“So, with the project on Beam Lumber Mill Road in Lincoln County…we’re already working on an expedited process. Although we obviously want to get this bridge repaired as quickly as possible, we’re still speeding up the process as much as we possibly can to make sure that it gets repaired.”
Baker explained that because the replacement of the bridge would be funded through federal disaster relief funds, additional time would be needed for the process.
“With the Beam Lumber Mill Road bridge, the replacement is going to be funded through federal disaster relief funds, and so, when you have that kind of funding, there are going to be some additional steps involved,” she said. “That includes some permitting, where we need to go through the federal government and include them as we are preparing this bridge. In this case, that’s where we are at this point. We’ve submitted some permits, and we’re waiting on those permits to be approved so we can go ahead and let the contract out.”
Because the department is still awaiting approval for the permits, Baker said that a final dollar amount for the replacement project will not be available until the project is awarded to a contractor.
“When you have a total bridge washout, which in and of itself is uncommon around here, combined with federal disaster funding, then there’s going to be some additional steps,” she said. “But, to reiterate, a traditional bridge replacement project can take up to three years. So, we’re hoping to have this bridge completed a little over a year after the washout date.”
Those interested in more information should visit www.ncdot.gov.