By Dave Russell
After months of meandering, plans to replace a bridge on Haywood Road over Scotts Creek and Smoky Mountain Railroad in Dillsboro are now etched in stone.
“Detour” and “Road Closed” signs will go up Tuesday and the 9,605 daily drivers can expect to add five to 10 minutes to travel from Dillsboro to Sylva or vice-versa.
Previously, the plan included construction of a temporary bridge paralleling the existing structure. The contractor, Wright Brothers of Charleston, Tennessee, proposed to close the road and not put in the temporary bridge, therefore completing the project faster and cheaper.
The “value engineering proposal” would put $452,500 in Dillsboro’s coffers.
Instead of concluding in 2023, 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,” DOT Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said.
Traveling the U.S. 441 to U.S. 23/74 to Grindstaff Cove Road detour should take less than 10 minutes and the local detour – North River Road, Yellow Bird Branch Road and Savannah Drive – about five minutes, Division 14 Construction Engineer Ted Adams said.
DOT will put up signs demarcating the 23/74 detour, but not the local detour.
“Typically, we only sign detours that can accommodate trucks,” Adams said. “We try to stick with North Carolina or U.S. routes as detours, but we know that the traveling public is going to find the shortest route.”
Project engineers have engaged in talks with local emergency management to make sure everyone knows the detour routes, he said.
The new bridge will have a 4-foot bike lane and a 5 1/2-foot sidewalk.
What this means for drivers:
• The road is open until Tuesday.
• From Tuesday until mid- to late-September, drivers will detour on U.S. 23/74 or North River Road/Yellow Bird Branch Road/Savannah Drive.
• Upon completion of Dillsboro Road construction in September, local traffic may detour through Monteith Park on Old Hometown Road.
• The new bridge is set for completion in about nine months, putting the opening date sometime in the spring of 2021.