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DOT to Give I-95 Bridges a Lift

Posted December 3, 2007

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— The low height of some bridges over Interstate 95 in Johnston County has raised concern among truckers and transportation officials.

"Low bridges are a problem. They should have been raised years ago when they were building them," truck driver Kyle Johnson said.

Johnson said he's never hit the underside of an I-95 bridge, but he's seen several low-clearance crashes over the years, including one a few weeks ago.

"Any time you have an accident, you have a backup," he said.

Most drivers said truckers unfamiliar with the area are most likely to hit the low bridges. But they're also a hassle for veteran drivers who know where they are.

Trucks have hit at least three interstate bridges in Johnston County this year. State Department of Transportation engineers called that an unusually high number, but said it's tied to the age of the bridges – older bridges are often lower because they were erected to old construction standards.

A bridge near Four Oaks is one of the lowest in the area and has special sensors to warn over-height trucks. But DOT engineers said the warnings don't always work.

So, the DOT plans to raise four bridges over I-95 in Johnston County by 2 feet each next summer. Federal highway money will pay for the $4 million project.

Crews plan to raise one bridge at a time to minimize delays, and each one could take several days to complete.

"Right now, if you're oversized, you have to get off and go around and over the on ramp and come back out on the other side, so it would be a good idea," truck driver Martin Bowles said.

9 Comments

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  • twc Dec 3, 2007

    Well, let's think ahead 50 years this time. Assume they'll repave I-95 from time to time. Assume trailers may be taller in the future. There certainly does not seem to be a lot of planning in most of the DOT stories I've read about in the past few years. I get enough reminders from the torture my car goes through on things I know personally should have been done better or different.

  • YeahWhatever Dec 3, 2007

    Uh, TWC, I-95 is OVER 50 YEARS OLD. Oldest interstate in NC.

    Do ya think standards for both highways and vehicles might have changed just a tiny tiny little bit in that time?

    In other news, doing them all at one time would be insane. You would not be able to have detour routes if you did that. Remember that in the main, it's not I-95 that is affected so much as the crossing route.

    I saw someone suggesting "digging out" in the paper. You don't understand highway construction if you think that is a cheaper or more viable solution.

    The number of issues is incredible - interstate pavement structure is typically more than 24" thick all told, the potential changes to drainage would be massive - especially if the pavement under the bridge is at a high point.

    The reality is that this is critical if I-95 is ever to be upgraded. Also, not sure where WRAL got the "few days" thing, but you would be looking at a month or more depending on the amount of grading required (as Steve surmised

  • twc Dec 3, 2007

    Steve, you made me wonder if they know what to do. Maybe someone should write in to DOT with suggestions and/or instructions on what to do or not do. That may very well help them avoid having to do it again; which appears to be their SOP!

  • Steve Crisp Dec 3, 2007

    Would someone explain to me how they are going to raise a bridge two feet in only a couple of days when it takes them two days just to repair a water pipe burst like happened on Avent Ferry Road a couple of weeks ago? Don't they have to tear out and regrade the bridge approaches and repave all that in addition to raising the bridge itself?

  • dhamma Dec 3, 2007

    Wow, I am surprised they are actually going to do this. Now if we can move away from the backwards decision to NOT include an ARROW for each turn lane we might start moving inline with the REST of the country.

  • tealsatin Dec 3, 2007

    UH...... Why raise them??? dig the road out under them..... *wink*

  • twc Dec 3, 2007

    You would think that the bridge height would have been correct in the beginning. Surely they weren't the first bridges ever built. Another example of poor DOT planning!! How can so many things that you believe would standard procedures be so wrong!!???

  • raysson Dec 3, 2007

    I-95 has always been a dangerous stretch of a four-lane highway that starts from Petersburg,Virginia all the way into Florida. Its about time they need to repair some of the old bridges cause you'll never know when they may collapse or for that manner dealing with the unexpected. Then you may have a situation on your hands. NCDOT should have fixed this problem long ago. Especially on one stretch of I-95 from Roanoke Rapids all the way toward the NC/SC Line that has been nothing but death valley everyday especially with some of these fools that drive like they haven't got any sense.

  • Leonardo Dec 3, 2007

    "Crews plan to raise one bridge at a time to minimize delays, and each one could take several days to complete."

    Hrm....seems like they should do them all at the same time to minimize delays. Like ripping off a bandaid...get all of it over with as quick as possible.