A bridge that serves one house could cost the town of Walnut Cove up to $150,000 to fix.
Town Manager Bobby Miller said the town-owned bridge on Depot Street, which serves as the only access to a single house at the end of the road, had failed an inspection in March and was briefly taken out of service.
“My guys went in in the pouring rain and worked on it for two days to get back to where they could use it,” he said. “The homeowners had to use it as a pedestrian bridge for a couple of days while we were working on it. We got it rated to where the homeowners could pass over it, but it went from being rated for 38,000 pounds down to 5,000 pounds.”
The bridge is the only bridge in the area which the town is responsible for maintaining.
Miller said the bridge, which was built in the 1940s, still has a strong steel structure.
“It is the pilings underneath and the floor which is oak timbers that are the problem,” said Miller. “We have to get it to a point where the homeowners can use it safely with their personal vehicles.”
Doing so, however, will likely be a costly endeavor for the town.
“One of our contractors said a repair could be done for $114,000,” said Miller, noting the bridge is 55-feet long. “To replace it would cost about $120,000, but it would require an engineer to come in and certify it which would probably be an additional $20,000. It is not going to be an easy fix. We are going to have to gather options and give them to the board.”
Another issue, according to Miller, is that repairs for the bridge would require using a crane from the opposite side of the creek crossing.
He noted that once the bridge is repaired to a sustainable state, the town may consider abandoning it.
“That would take the liability off of the town,” said Miller. “There is precedent for abandoning a street, but when you abandon a street with a bridge, you have to meet the requirements that you are not impeding the egress of the home owners. We owe it to them to make sure they are able to get into their home.”
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.