Groundbreaking for Wil-Cox bridge project Monday

Groundbreaking for Wil-Cox bridge project Monday

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - A groundbreaking will be held Monday for something that was built in 1924.  How does that work?

It's a bridge that spans the Yadkin River between Rowan and Davidson Counties, and while it no longer carries cars, it will soon be open to pedestrians and bicycles.

Max Walser loves to talk history.

"In the Revolutionary War, General Nathaniel Green crossed just below this bridge here," Walser said while standing on the Wil-Cox bridge on Friday. "You've got native American history going back 12,000 years…"

But as great as the history is, it's what's happening here now that has many excited.  This bridge is going to become something very different, and that al started with another battle fought here about five years ago.

"It goes back to being a commissioner when I fought to get the bridge," Walser said. "I had to fight to get the bridge."

Max won that fight, and in 2013 the bridge was given to Davidson County, along with the $2 ½  million it would have cost the state to tear it down.  Narrow, with some structural damage, it was not needed for traffic once the new I-85 Yadkin River bridge opened.

That led to the thought of saving it and finding a use.

"It's going to be a bike and pedestrian cross bridge, shade structures on the bridge with shade…steps coming off it, going down to the bottom to the Riverwalk," said Thomas Marshburn of Davidson County Parks & Recreation. "It's one of a kind.  You've got a trail head, you've got history, you've got the river.  Just half a mile down the way you got the lake, High Rock Lake."

The bridge will be the centerpiece of a major development along the Yadkin on the Davidson County side, and on the other side, the town of Spencer in Rowan County will also be part of it with a new greenway that connects it to the Carolina Thread Trail that stretches to Rock Hill, South Carolina.

DreamBuilt Construction, Inc. will begin preparing the bridge for pedestrians, including installing lighting, adding landscaping and shade and placing benches. The bridge will be closed to cars and other vehicles.

Organizers can't wait to get started.

"As soon as the groundbreaking happens we're going to have notice to proceed, 150 days we will be done with this project phase one," Marshburn added.

The groundbreaking will begin at 10 a.m. on the Davidson County side of the bridge, just off Highway 29.