Wright Bridge westbound span to reopen by end of next week

By on May 6, 2015

wrightspanThe resurfacing project that has stretched over the last two off-seasons on the westbound Wright Memorial Bridge will be finished next week.

“Right now everything is still on schedule for (the) bridge to be completely done and open by May 15,” according to N.C. Department of Transportation spokesperson Jennifer Heiss.

Workers returned in early March and started pouring the latex-modified concrete overlay onto the remaining sections after work was suspended in late-December by harsh winter weather.

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The special mixture could only be applied when temperatures were between 50 and 85 degrees, surface temperatures were between 40 and 85 degrees and wind speeds were no more than 10 mph.

There are a total of 249 expansion joints on the bridge, one located on top of each bent, which is the combination of pilings that supports the bridge spans. The joints help allow the spans of the bridge to expand and contract with the weather.

“Crews are still working on the joints and have been cleaning those areas before they work on them,” Heiss said.

Heiss added that workers will have the joints finished this week and are also wrapping up grinding grooves in the road surface to increase traction.

[adrotate banner=”425″]Painting of new lane markings on the bridge was scheduled to take place next week, but a paint truck was already working on the eastern half of the bridge Tuesday afternoon.

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G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc. of York, Pa. was able to finish two-thirds of the bridge before Memorial Day weekend 2014, but had to return in the fall to finish the $6.3 million project.

Engineers had expected the weather to cause delays before last Memorial Day weekend, and back-to-back-to-back snowfalls in the winter of 2014 led to crews needing another off-season to finish.

The only fines that would be levied against the contractor were $1,000 per day if the bridge could not be opened to traffic before Memorial Day weekend because of the expectation that it could take longer than one off-season to complete the resurfacing.

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The bridge reopened to traffic on May 12 of last year, but was closed again on Sept. 14.

Progress was being made last fall and the start of winter thanks to relatively mild temperatures and low winds, but came to a halt just before the holidays.

When the westbound bridge was built in 1995, the supports of the deck did not bend as expected after the concrete road deck was poured on top.

The road deck between each bent had a more pronounced “hump” causing a bouncy ride.

A similar issue developed on other spans in the region around the same time, including the Washington Baum Bridge over Roanoke Sound, but not to the severity as on the Wright Memorial Bridge.


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