English Erects Much-Needed New Yadkin River Bridge

Wed February 04, 2009 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson




Heavy cranes are being moved into position to begin the girder assembly later this winter on a new $14.9 million, four-lane bridge spanning the Yadkin River along U.S. Highway 158 in North Carolina, 10 mi. southwest of Winston-Salem.

The bridge links the communities of Clemmons in Forsyth County on the east bank of the Yadkin with Bermuda Run and Advance in Davie County on the west bank.

The new span on U.S. Highway 158 will replace the current two-lane concrete bridge that has carried traffic across the river for almost 70 years. Although it has proven to be a durable and sturdy bridge throughout its lifespan, engineers with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) have deemed the old span to be “functionally obsolete.”

As soon as the new bridge is completed, now scheduled to occur in January 2010, the project’s general contractor, English Construction Co. of Lynchburg, Va., will demolish the old span. That will be completed in April or May 2010, according to Darin Waller, the project engineer for the NCDOT.

The NCDOT awarded the contract to build the new Yadkin River Bridge to the design-build team of English and designer, T.Y. Lin International, a global firm with an office in Raleigh.

Plans call for the new bridge to be more than 1,150 ft. (350.5 m) long and 60 ft. (18.3 m) wide with four travel lanes. The width of the new bridge will be a significant improvement for drivers crossing the river, as the old two-lane span is only about 25 ft. (7.6 m) wide. The inside lanes of the new bridge will be the standard 12 ft. (3.7 m) in width while the outside lanes will be 16 ft. (4.9 m) wide to accommodate a bicycle lane. The bridge also will protect drivers and cyclists with aluminum railings on the sides.

Waller said that the new bridge would be made up of eight interior bents and nine spans.

The old Yadkin River Bridge originally opened in 1940 before being renamed the “Kathryn Crosby Bridge,” in the 1990s after the singer/actress who was once married to crooner Bing Crosby. In the 1980s, she moved her late husband’s charity golf tournament from Pebble Beach, Calif., to Bermuda Run Country Club, adjacent to the old bridge, and became involved in several other charitable concerns in the area.

Traffic over the old bridge is often at its heaviest during the Christmas season as motorists line up each night to get into Tanglewood Park, adjacent to the bridge on the Forsyth side, for the annual Festival of Lights holiday show.

“That bridge has really just outlived its usefulness,” said Waller. “It is being replaced due to its age and because it is deteriorating. Plus, there was a serious need to widen the bridge deck to handle the traffic.”

After the contract was awarded in October 2007, actual site work at the bridge did not begin until last June. Waller said that that was due to English Construction needing several months to gather all the necessary environmental permits prior to construction.

Once that was finished, Waller said that the work quickly got under way on the single-phase bridge plan. Traffic will continue to stream over the Crosby Bridge as the work progresses on the new span. Once the new bridge is finished next year, traffic will then be switched to it as the old bridge is taken apart.

“Each end of the bridge will have a slight curve to it as the road will swing out before straightening back again,” Waller explained. “Currently, we have a couple of the interior bent caps built and they are real close to the existing structure, so by the time we set the beams and build a deck on the bridge there is going to be very little working room between the two. That was done, though, to stay within the right of way.”

English has built causeways extending from the bank of each side of the river in order to have a platform to allow its subcontractor, McKinney Drilling of Kernersville, to drill for the foundations of the bridge. A Hughes LDH-80 foundation drill rig is being utilized by McKinney to do the job.

The Davie County side of the project has a broad floodplain on which to work and erect that end of the bridge supports. As a result, two bridge foundations are currently being built there on level ground. About half the length of the new bridge will span that floodplain beginning from heights just outside the gates to Bermuda Run Country Club.

Across the river in Forsyth County, there is no floodplain from which to work on the bridge supports, so English is relying solely on the rock causeway on that end for its crews to work.

As per the environmental permits, the causeways can restrict no more than 50 percent of the Yadkin’s flow, an important concession for the many canoeists and tubers that travel that stretch of the river. Once the bents are in place, those causeways will be removed.

The bridge project is currently on schedule and has not hit any real snags, according to Cory Bond, the project manager for English. The weather has been fairly mild, he said, and the Yadkin itself presents no significant challenges to the work.

“The river where we are working is very shallow — maybe about 5 to 6 feet deep — although it will be deeper where we will be putting in the middle foundations,” Bond said. “We had some heavy rains in December which flooded the causeways and didn’t allow us to get out for a few days, but we had no real damage.”

About 15 to 20 workers from English and its subcontractors can be found working at the job site any particular day, Bond added. Crews are only working during weekdays and weather doesn’t generally keep them from the job.

English has been using a P&H 70-ton (63.5 t) crawler crane and a 50-ton (35.4) hydraulic crane to help set the forms and rebar on the first of the bridge’s foundations, he said. Hiatt & Mason Enterprises in Mount Airy is the subcontractor in charge of putting in the rebar.

While work is progressing on the substructures, Bond anticipates being able to set up each of the bridge’s 127-ft. (38.7 m) girders in February. To accomplish that, the contractor will use an American 100- and a 210-ton (90.7 and 190.5 t) crane, he said.

As there is not much grading or pipe work to be done on this project, the only other heavy equipment seeing much use has been a Kobelco SK350 excavator, a Caterpillar D6 track dozer, 416 backhoe loader and 563E soil compactor. English buys its Kobelcos from Stafford Equipment in Roanoke, Va., and its Caterpillar machines from Carter Equipment and James River Equipment, both located in Salem, Va.

English will use most of the same equipment to take down the Crosby Bridge next year, Bond added.

“The typical way of demolishing a bridge over a river today, with environmental concerns, is to saw-cut all the barrier walls off of it and lift those out with a crane or an excavator,” said the NCDOT’s Waller. “They will then work piece by piece sawing the deck off and work their way from the middle of the river back.”

Once the new bridge is finished, English will use the Thompson-Arthur Division of APAC-Atlantic Inc. in Greensboro to do the paving work on the new roadway. CEG