For about 10 months, a mangled, washed-out bridge in Clayton has stood as an obstacle for cyclists and pedestrians on the Neuse River Greenway Trail.
The 90-foot wooden bridge, marked by “Do Not Enter” signs and ribbons of caution tape, collapsed during flooding from Hurricane Matthew last October.
The bridge crosses Marks Creek, behind the Riverwood development off Pritchard Road in northern Clayton. Town officials say it will be at least another four months before the bridge is replaced.
The process has taken so long because the town has been pursuing federal disaster funding to replace the bridge, said spokeswoman Stacy Beard. Initial cost estimates for the project are close to $200,000, which will be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Beard said. The project was approved by N.C. Department of Public Safety officials last week.
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The new bridge will be more sturdy, Beard said.
“The original bridge was not engineered to withstand great floods, so, for the sake of our popular and valuable greenway system, we are pursuing a design and build that will hopefully withstand future weather events to prevent this from happening again,” she wrote in an email.
As for who will build the new bridge, Beard said the town will open the project for bids within the week and hopes to award a contract in September. Construction is scheduled to begin afterward, with the aim of completing the project by late December.
In the interim, nearby residents and other trail users have gotten creative about crossing Marks Creek.
Many people ignore the “Do Not Enter” signs and cross the bridge anyway, said Abbie Nelson, a cyclist who lives nearby. Others cross the creek – really more of a ditch at this point, with just a few inches of water – to the side of the bridge.
“I really hope they can fix it soon,” Nelson said. “It’s been like this for a while, and it’s really just an inconvenience and an eyesore.”
Sam Killenberg: 919-829-4802