NCDOT has announced a big change in construction plans to build a new bridge in the town of Dillsboro.
Officials plan to close down Haywood Road (U.S. 23 Business) for nine months instead of building a temporary bridge. This will shave about 2 years and $3 million dollars off of the project, according to Div 14 Construction Engineer Ted Adams.
“We felt like it was a good idea to just close it and minimize the duration and just get the work done,” says Adams.
The closure will start on July 7. The project is valued at $14 million. Half of the $3 million in savings will go to the contractor, Wright Brothers Constructions. The company says $452,500 of the savings be given to the Town of Dillsboro.
Dillsboro and Sylva officials were originally opposed to this plan but during COVID-19 closures, the contractor working on the road brought up the option again after seeing very few cars on the road.
According to 2018 numbers, almost 10,000 cars go through this corridor every day.
Dillsboro officials have signed on to the project while some Jackson County and Sylva officials are still against the closure.
“We feel the timing of this decision is hasty during the COVID-19 pandemic. The community and businesses deserve the opportunity to voice their opinions on both bridges being closed, especially when everyone will be getting back to work and businesses will be trying to recover” says Mayor Lynda Sossamon on behalf of the Town of Sylva Board of Commissioners in a letter sent to DOT on April 24.
NCDOT says that they responded to all of the town's concerns.
“To answer your question about a detailed traffic impact analysis, these additional studies, traffic impact analysis, or cost benefit analysis would take longer to complete then the actual construction of the bridge under the closure. With delays occurring under both alternatives, the NCDOT does not believe additional analysis is warranted,” explains Adams in his response to Sossamon on June 3.
“In summary, the NCDOT believes the cost savings to the taxpayers as well as the reduction in the length of traffic impacts to the area of Dillsboro outweigh the short-term inconvenience motorists will face.”
Adams says that NCDOT has not received any additional comments from Sylva officials.
Eastbound motorists on U.S.441 to U.S. 74 East can use Exit 83 to Grindstaff Cove Road to get to Sylva and westbound traffic will follow the route in reverse.
This will add just over 10 minutes to most drive times.
Local motorists in Sylva can also follow Savannah Drive to Yellow Bird Branch Road to North River Road. Using this local detour from one side of the bridge to the other is 2.6 miles about five minutes depending on signal lights.
Dillsboro Road is currently closed for wall construction between Haywood Road and Old Hometown Road. This will take three months to complete. Residents of the Bart Cove community will continue using Old Home Town Road to access Haywood Road.
The new bridge will feature a sidewalk and a bike lane.