A portion of one of the most popular thoroughfares in the High Country and the state has reopened to traffic at just the right time.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has finished the replacement of the bridge that crosses over Old Field Creek on Railroad Grade Road, in Fleetwood. Demolition and construction began on April 2 and lasted for most of the summer.
During the course of the project, a portion of Railroad Grade Road between U.S. 221 and the Fleetwood Post Office was closed to traffic.
According to Doug Eller, Resident Engineer for NCDOT Division 11 (Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin counties), the construction contract stretched from March 31 to Nov. 15, with the new bridge expected to open to traffic around the first of August.
J.R. Vannoy and Sons Construction Company was awarded the contract worth $466,180 to complete the project which included grading work, drainage, paving and replacing the bridge.
Construction impacted school bus routes, area residents and some tourists, however, it didn’t have much of an impact on Todd businesses.
Railroad Grade Road is a 10-mile stretch of paved, country road between Todd and Fleetwood, built upon an old railroad grade that was used by the Virginia-Carolina Railroad, better known as the “Virginia Creeper.” It’s immensely popular among cyclists and its location along the South Fork of the New River makes it an access point for anglers and tubers.
The old bridge originally opened to traffic in 1970 and was considered “structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.”
Repairs were last made to the bridge in June 2012 to rehabilitate steel girders, replace some steel planks and pave the road over the bridge.
The new bridge over Old Field Creek is 82 feet in length and is designed to provide for greater hydraulic flow and improve flood resistance.
Alan Bulluck can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @albulluck.