Reconstruction of the U.S. 401 southbound overpass near Scotland High School is proceeding on schedule, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Normal northbound and southbound traffic patterns should be reestablished in May.
“They’re right on schedule, maybe one or two percent ahead actually,” said Charles Dumas, district engineer with the state DOT.
The project of demolishing the old overpass began in May, with traffic in both directions routed to the northbound lanes until the project’s completion. The new route has not proven problematic to drivers or to site workers.
“It’s been functioning pretty well,” Dumas said. “I’ve been through it myself several times just to look.”
Smith-Rowe Construction of Mt. Airy is performing the construction at a cost of $1.8 million to the state.
The original overpass, constructed in 1954, was not considered unsafe for traffic. However, the bridge had been superannuated by new building techniques, and its ongoing maintenance demands necessitated its replacement.
“It just basically it came up for replacement,” Dumas said. “It was considered functionally obsolete, built to standards that are no longer used for bridges. Although it was safe, it required maintenance and repair and it needed to be replaced.”
The bridge passes over U.S. 74 business, which has been closed twice to allow for overhead work.
“There are times that we’ve had intermittent closure of 74,” said Dumas. “The two instances that it’s been closed so far have been for demolition of the bridge and setting of the girders.”
Dumas said that no further closures of U.S. 74 are planned. Although traffic should be returned to its normal pattern by May, the vegetation and reforestation aspect of the project is not scheduled to be completed until November 2013.
“The bridge is supposed to be completed by May 15,” Dumas said. “The establishment of vegetation, which is really getting grass and things growing again, will be November 11.”