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July 16, 2020

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New Plan for Dillsboro Bridge Shaves Years, Saves Millions

DILLSBORO – Construction plans to replace a bridge on Haywood Road over Scott Creek and Smoky Mountain Railroad in Dillsboro are going in a new direction.

Officials from the Town of Dillsboro, the N.C. Department of Transportation and Wright Brothers Construction agreed to implement a new value engineering plan that will reduce the overall construction time from three years to nine months.

The new plan also shaves $3 million off the $14 million value of the contract with half of the savings going to the contractor. Wright Brothers officials will pass $452,500 of the savings to the Town of Dillsboro. 

This plan — first examined more than five years ago during development of the project — includes directing traffic to U.S. 23/74 while closing Haywood Road (U.S. 23 Business) for nine months starting on Tuesday, July 7. 

The previous three-year plan included lane closures and daily delays on Haywood Road, and required extra components including the construction of a temporary bridge on Haywood Road. Instead of concluding in 2022, construction is now expected to finish next spring.

“The changes will benefit the entire community by reducing the overall construction time by two years and limiting disruptions and delays to those traveling through the area,” NCDOT Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said. “We believe the cost savings to the taxpayers, as well as the reduction in the length of traffic impacts, to the area of Dillsboro outweigh the short-term inconvenience motorists will face.”

During the project development of this bridge, engineers studied a Haywood Road closure as an option for construction. However, the Town of Dillsboro felt that would be too much of an impact on their businesses and elected not to utilize this option. 

The road closure concept arose again after the majority of businesses in Dillsboro closed due to COVID-19. Dillsboro officials now support the closure, and delivered their consent to close the bridge in order to complete the project as soon as possible.

The signed detour for eastbound traffic will be U.S.441 to U.S. 74 East to Exit 83 to Grindstaff Cove Road, and westbound traffic will follow the route in reverse.

Local residents will find the easiest route will be Savannah Drive to Yellow Bird Branch Road to North River Road. Using this local detour from one side of the bridge to the other is 2.6 miles about five minutes depending on signal lights.

Dillsboro Road is currently closed for wall construction between Haywood Road and Old Hometown Road. This will take three months to complete. Residents of the Bart Cove community will continue using Old Home Town Road to access Haywood Road.  

Transportation officials remind drivers to plan extra time into their commute through this area and to obey all posted signs.

For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.

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