WADESBORO — Town officials say they hope the East Wade bridge will be replaced by this time next year.
Town public services director Hugh James said that he is waiting for one more permit from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Raleigh before the project can go to bid. As soon as bids are in, the town can begin the physical replacement of the bridge after a long period of waiting for paperwork.
“I started working on trying to get this bridge replaced in 2008,” James said. “There’s so much paperwork for such a tiny bridge.”
Several years ago, the bridge was declared structurally deficient. James said the bridge — an aging structure made of wood framing — doesn’t need heavy trucks crossing it.
The decision to close the East Wade Bridge was made when James and other town employees were standing on the bridge to make minor repairs to the guardrail.
“While we were working on it, traffic was crossing and the bridge started shaking,” he said. “We were so scared to even stand on it that we just shut it down.”
The cost of replacing the bridge will be about $500,000. According to James, the bridge will be part of the state’s replacement program; although the town will pay the full price of the replacement up front, the state will reimburse Wadesboro 80 percent of the total cost.
Originally, the town had hoped to begin work on the bridge in July, but the wait for paperwork has caused the delay.
James still hopes to have work on the bridge begin by late summer and finished by early next year.
Ideally, “we hope to complete it by this time next year, if not sooner,” he said.
While he understands the inconvenience of having the bridge closed, James said the detour around it only adds one or two minutes of travel time, and that opening the bridge now would be too risky.