Surprising new life for an old bridge - | WBTV Charlotte

Surprising new life for an old bridge

Charlotte, NC -

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - Now that the state and federal government have committed millions of dollars to replace the I-85 Yadkin River bridge, what will become of the Wil-Cox Highway 29 bridge?

The state closed that bridge that connects Rowan and Davidson after finding several cracks in the concrete, but some preservationists say the Wil-Cox bridge should be saved.

On Friday WBTV learned of a new plan that the state and leaders in Davidson County have come up with to save the bridge and convert it into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.

For 86 years the Wil-Cox bridge carried traffic between Rowan and Davidson counties, and when there were problems that blocked traffic on the  85/Yadkin River bridge, the Wil-Cox became an essential life line.

In April the state but up barriers and closed the Wil-Cox bridge over safety concerns, and the plan was to tear it down.

Local historians jumped into action.

"This is the longest one in the state, 1299 feet," said local historian Ann Brownlee. "It's the oldest standing one."

Then Davidson County leaders and the North Carolina Department of Transportation figured out an alternative to make the bridge part of a county park as an element of a bike and pedestrian trail way.

This plan will have to wait until the new 85/Yadkin River bridge is completed.  For now the state needs the Wil-Cox bridge for detours, but after that, it will become the property of Davidson County.

"We will be providing another $2.5 million for further improvements," said Pat Ivey of the NC Department of Transportation.   "So that they can have something they can be proud of."

The state will open the bridge to traffic temporarily once construction on the new bridge starts next year.

They will also be making repairs to the bridge before that time.

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