The eastbound side of Timber Drive East will close at about 7 p.m. Friday from N.C. 50 to White Oak Road for work to level the transition onto the bridge over Mahlers Creek.
Work will continue through Sunday, with the bridge expected to be fully operational for the Monday morning commute.
North Carolina Department of Transportation assistant resident engineer David Conner said the construction crew will replace some material under the road approaching the bridge out. It had for some reason swollen since the road’s construction in 2011.
The detour will force drivers trying to use the 1.3 mile extension to head north on N.C. 50/Benson Road, take a right on New Rand road, and another right on U.S. 70 toward White Oak Road. The path from Timber and N.C. 50 to Timber and White Oak will be lengthened to 2.7 miles over the weekend.
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After predicted rain from Tuesday through Thursday, the forecast clears over the weekend.
“If we got bad weather it absolutely could cause some problems (completing the work and opening the road Monday.) But at this point it doesn’t look like it’s going to be an issue,” Conner said.
Vehicles visibly drop and bounce up and down a couple times as they transition from the road, which is slightly higher than the bridge.
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. DOT does not know exactly why the swelling took place.
“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.
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.