By Dave Russell
The story of replacing the 80-year-old bridge over Scotts Creek and the Southern Railroad line on Haywood Road (U.S. 23 Business) in Dillsboro is actually a tale of nine projects.
Before the N.C. Department of Transportation builds the new bridge, it must build three temporary bridges and one temporary road, tear down the old structure, build the new one, then remove the temporary structures. A retaining wall is in the mix as well.
But it is utilities that have delayed the project by about six months.
A new completion estimate for the project has been postponed six or seven months past the original date of Feb. 28, 2023.
“Right now, all that is happening is utility relocation,” said Nathan Tanner, resident engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation. “The relocation delay is no fault of the contractor, so that is the time they will be allotted. I would imagine they will have it completed long before the completion date.”
The contractor is scheduled to start construction on a temporary detour bridge through Monteith Park by the Appalachian Women’s Museum in mid-February, Tanner said.
That temporary bridge will reconnect Old Home Town Road through Monteith Park and direct traffic within 50 feet of the museum. Old Home Town intersects Business 23 near B & Al’s Diner and rejoins it near the bridge construction site.
The road through the park will be temporary, only in place while the retaining wall is built between Business 23 and the entrance to the park. The Old Home Town route is designed to channel local traffic from Bart Cove and Dillsboro Road to Business 23, according to Ted Adams, Division construction engineer for DOT Division 14.
Afterward, the DOT is required by law to return the area to its original condition, or better.
The road would only be reconnected and open to traffic for about four to six months, he said.
The road will bisect the park, with the parking lot and playground on one side and the park’s other amenities on the other.
The nonprofit Appalachian Women’s Museum is refurbishing the Monteith Farmstead and outbuildings as a place to illustrate the crafts and way of life of southern Appalachian women. The farmstead is on the National Register of Historic Places.
A temporary bridge parallel to the 80-year-old structure targeted for replacement would be the primary route for through traffic, Adams said.
A small temporary bridge over Scotts Creek near the old bridge will be built for construction equipment and employees.
The DOT last summer awarded the $14 million contract to Wright Brothers Construction of Charleston, Tennessee to replace the bridge.
Concerns about the bridge work prompted the organizers of the WNC Pottery Festival to move the event from Dillsboro to Sylva last year.