Another Pearson Falls Road bridge to be replaced

Published 1:35 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

Only months after construction was completed on one bridge on Pearson Falls Road, N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) officials have started preliminary work toward the replacement of another bridge.

The bridge to be replaced is a small bridge about a half mile from the paved entrance to Pearson Falls Road from U.S. 176, just past the trestles.

Built in 1960, it is deteriorating and needs to be replaced soon, DOT says.

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But residents won’t have to worry about construction for about five more years. The schedule calls for the state to obtain rights of way in 2015 and construction to begin in 2016, DOT officials said this week.

N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) officials met with residents Monday and showed three proposals for the bridge replacement, each with different traffic detour effects.

The first option involves an off-site detour, with traffic being rerouted up Hwy. 176 to Saluda and back down the dirt portion of Pearson Falls Road.&bsp;&bsp; This option is not under serious consideration because of safety issues, since large tanker fire trucks cannot fit under the trestles and would be unable to reach portions of Pearson Falls Road. This is the least expensive of the options, with costs estimated at $375,000.

The second option (see drawing, p. 5) involves an onsite detour, with a temporary road being constructed while the bridge is being replaced. The temporary road would be removed at the end of construction. Estimated costs for this option are the highest of the three options at $675,000.

The third option (see drawing, p. 5), which also involves an onsite detour, is to create a new road and bridge, with the old bridge being used as the detour. The old bridge and road would be removed at the end of construction. Costs for this option are estimated at $550,000.

Mildred Pearson, who owns property on both sides of the bridge, expressed concern over options 2 and 3.

Pearson says she thinks the state should just take out the bridge and put in a new one.

They cant do anything simple, Pearson says. They always have to do the most expensive thing.

Polk County Manager Ryan Whitson was among the Polk officials who attended the meeting. Whitson said the countys position is that an onsite detour (option two or three) should be used. Whitson says the county is not in favor of detouring residents on that portion of Pearson Falls Road for four to five months up to Saluda and back down Pearson Falls Road to get to their homes.

Pearson Falls, a botanical preserve that attracts many visitors, is also located on the part of Pearson Falls Road that would have to be accessed by going up U.S. 176 and down the dirt portion of the road.

DOT officials said holding public informational meetings is part of how the state decides to do such projects. The DOT normally holds several meetings with the public before replacing bridges. Residents were urged Monday to write down their comments for the DOT.

The DOT identifies the bridge to be replaced as Bridge No. 4 over a small branch of the Pacolet River on Pearson Falls Road (State Road 1102).