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Bridge Blamed for Accidents Getting Makeover

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NASHVILLE — A dangerous Nash County bridge is being improved. In October of 1996, four students from Southern Nash Senior High School were traveling on N.C. Highway 97 when their car crashed on the Turkey Creek bridge. Three of the young girls died.

Investigators say the narrow bridge played a role in that crash. Many now say this is the start of a long overdue project to make the bridge safer.

That section of highway looks very different today. It's obvious that a new bridge is going up. Area residents say they're glad to see the old one gone. The old Turkey Creek bridge, which many said was too narrow and too unforgiving, is now a pile of rubble.

The old bridge was built in 1926.

The new one will have wider lanes and about 4 feet of space on each shoulder. In the collision that killed those students in 1996, their car was only inches off the lane it was traveling in, yet it struck the concrete bridge just the same.

Friends of the victims say they're glad to the new, safer bridge going up.

"The newer bridges are a little bit wider than the older ones," said Danny Keen, a friend of some of the victims. "You have more room. The older bridge is not that wide. You had to watch how you crossed, because when you saw a car coming, you had to judge your distance and make sure you don't hit them in the process."

Keen is now a school bus driver, and says he knows what it's like to drive a large vehicle across the old bridge.

The state department of transportation says it replaced over 200 bridges last year. They expect to replace at least that many by the end of this year.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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