Bridge work in Clyde causes congestionProject expected to be completed in August
State bridge work in Clyde is causing congestion and wrecks for drivers, and there's still at least a month of work left.
N.C. Department of Transportation crews are working to repair and resurface the bridges between Exit 105 and Exit 106 on U.S. Highway 74.
The 50-year-old bridges were in need of a "face lift," said Julia Casadonte, communications officer for the NC DOT.
It's all part of a NCDOT project to repair and rehabilitate five bridges in Haywood County and four in Swain County.
Crews have been working on the project for about four weeks so far and there's plenty more work to do.
Work has been done to chip away and replace old deteriorating concrete on the bridge surface. Part of that includes a process called hydro-demolition, which is the application of intense water pressure to remove concrete from the bridge deck.
"It's very volatile and can blow pieces of concrete out, so we've had to erect a barrier wall to keep concrete from hitting cars and to keep our workers safe," Casadonte said.
The barrier is also in place to prevent vehicles from driving over the uneven concrete between the lanes, which is created when the concrete is chipped away.
"You're only allowed to have a 2-inch difference between lane heights and the removal of the concrete is exceeding the 2-inch threshold," Casadonte said.
Because of the nature of the work, crews are only working on the bridges during the day. But with the left lane closed, there has been congestion and several accidents on that stretch of highway, starting before the roadwork even begins.
Most of the accidents, according to collision reports on the N.C. Highway Patrol website, are caused when drivers simply fail to slow down for road work. That mistake has caused several collisions, including one four-car pileup.
Another 73-year-old man who failed to slow down collided with the concrete barrier and overturned his vehicle.
Sgt. J.D. Smith with the N.C. Highway Patrol said the most congested times to be on the road are 8 a.m., noon and 5 p.m.
More than anything, he said drivers need to pay attention to the signage and slow down before they reach the road work, especially by the time they reach Exit 104.
Casadonte said crews will take a break from road work and open up all lanes starting next week to allow smooth travels for the July Fourth holiday.
After that, they will finish up paving work on eastbound lanes with periodical lane closures and then they will switch their focus to the westbound side, she said. Workers also plan to replace the median wall on one bridge meaning the inside lanes of each side of the highway will be closed during that time.
The project is expected to be complete by August.