Smithfield residents, downtown businesses and Johnston County commuters aren’t sure how they will handle the scheduled closing for six to eight months of the busy U.S. 70 Business bridge over the Neuse River, starting Tuesday evening.
The state Department of Transportation is replacing the five-lane bridge, built in 1923, at the west edge of downtown. Demolition will start this week as soon as the old bridge is closed.
The new structure will be expanded to include a pedestrian walkway on the north side and a combination bicycle-pedestrian path on the south side. D.H. Griffin Construction Co. of Raleigh won a $5.3 million contract to build the new bridge.
While the Neuse bridge is closed, the 25,000 cars and trucks that use it each day will be diverted to other routes. DOT has marked several detours.
Drivers coming into downtown from the west will have to loop around nearly four miles to the north, via Booker Dairy and Buffalo roads.
Smithfield police will be patrolling the detour routes to help drivers find their way. DOT engineers said they will install temporary traffic signals at any intersections where heavy detour traffic is causing problems.
Detour maps, updates and other details are online at the project website: ncdot.gov/projects/smithfieldneuseriverbridge.
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