After nearly 80 years of service to the people of Hillsborough and Orange County, the bridge over the Eno River along U.S. 70 Bypass on the east side of Hillsborough will soon be no more.
The bridge, which crosses a 238-foot span of road approximately 40 to 50 feet above the Eno River along two tree-laden, high-banked hills, has been operational for 78 years. On Monday, work began to replace the bridge, which was originally constructed in 1941, but has reached the end of its useful life, according to officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
A look underneath the bridge reveals old, cracking concrete and deteriorating segments of the bridge’s support system. And while there is no immediate threat to passengers driving along the approximately 200-foot bridge segment, the NCDOT recently awarded a $4.8 million contract to Conti Enterprises of Edison, New Jersey, for a three-stage process necessary to demolish and replace the existing bridge.
Conti Enterprises must initially construct a temporary bridge apparatus that will allow travelers and commuters to cross the Eno River before it can tear down the existing structure, and replace it with another bridge that can last through much of the remainder of the 21st century. The entire project will take approximately two years.
On Monday morning, the contractor began constructing a temporary, two-lane detour bridge adjacent to the existing structure. Once that structure is complete - which will probably not be until sometime in 2020 - traffic will be shifted onto the temporary bridge, and demolition and replacement of the permanent bridge will follow.
The new bridge, designed to last 75 years, is scheduled to open by July 2021. The new bridge crossing the Eno along U.S. 70 Bypass will feature 54-inch-tall concrete and metal railing, which will make the crossing along the Eno much safer for bicycle traffic. The current bridge has concrete rails which are just over two feet in height - considered substandard by modern bridge construction practices.
The newly-constructed bridge will also be 27 feet longer, for a total of 265 feet, and will be designed to accommodate a future greenway that could one day pass under the bridge.
Starting on Monday and lasting throughout the project, the entrance to Riverside Drive closest to the river was closed at U.S. 70 Bypass. Drivers will be directed to use the second entrance to Riverside Drive and Mount View Court to access locations on Riverside Drive closest to the river.
Drivers should pay attention and obey the posted speed limit throughout the work zone. For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.