Completed in late 2011, the less-than-three-year-old Timber Drive extension needs work.
Swelling beneath the pavement of Timber Drive near the Mahlers Creek bridge has created an uneven surface and sudden drop at one end of the bridge. The state Department of Transportation hopes to fix the bridge this month.
DOT hopes the fix can come this month. But an exact date for repairs, which would close the extension both ways for “a long weekend,” has not been set.
Council members described cars visibly bouncing as they transition and drop from road to the bridge, particularly in the right eastbound lane.
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“It is a dangerous situation going over the bridge at the speed limit. I cannot imagine how DOT does not see a sense of urgency,” councilman Buck Kennedy said.
Reese Briley, an NCDOT bridge maintenance engineer, called the problem an “anomaly” and said the department has not determined an exact cause. He said DOT does believe that the issue is not the bridge, but swelling of the sub grade beneath the road.
“Strange things happen occasionally, things we cannot pinpoint, with construction materials. We believe the course of action we’re taking will take care of everything,” Briley said. “We know where the swelling is taking place, but we don’t know what has caused the swelling to take place.”
Briley said he’d “like to say” the fix will happen this month, but that remains to be determined. NCDOT is negotiating with the contractor. There will be a detour during the weekend the repairs take place.
As to whether a risk of recurrence after the fix would remain, Briley said he doubted it would happen once NCDOT removed the swelling material.
“The concern is very minimal if at all,” Briley said of relapse.
The bridge was part of the Timber Drive extension project that linked Benson Road/N.C. 50 to White Oak Road, which substantially increased connectivity for the southern part of the town.
The town contributed land and right of way as well as lights and landscaping to the project, but the road was built by the state and remains state-maintained.
Town council members brought up the issue at their Sept. 2 meeting, and staff including town engineer Tony Chalk said the transition to the bridge needs to be fixed soon.
“There’s a feeling that your tire leaves the road,” said assistant town manager Rodney Dickerson.