Granite Falls bridge collapses after year of being closed

Published: May. 17, 2017 at 10:04 PM EDT|Updated: May. 18, 2017 at 2:47 PM EDT
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(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)
(Steve Ohnesorge | WBTV)

GRANITE FALLS, NC (WBTV) - A Caldwell County bridge that closed in 2016 after officials deemed it to have major structural issues has collapsed.

An entire section of the Falls Avenue Bridge in Granite Falls fell into the body of water that the bridge crosses, Mill Pond.

The bridge was shut down in October 2016 after wooden supports started to splinter, the North Carolina Department of Transportation said. The bridge surface had a slight sag and officials were concerned about traffic crossing it.

On Thursday, the NCDOT said that the plan to replace the bridge remains on schedule. The NCDOT said the bridge is scheduled to be demolished in June.

PREVIOUS: Granite Falls bridge to stay closed for a while

Bids were awarded in February 2017 for construction of a $3.2 million replacement bridge. Work is slated to begin in just a matter of weeks.

The bridge closure has resulted in long detours for many. Depending on what the destination is, it can add as much as 30 minutes to the trip. "At rush hour, it is horrible," said Cathy Hicks.

Mikalaa Martin says for her family it is more than an inconvenience. "It is a matter of life and death," Martin said. Martin's mom, she says, has a life-threatening illness that requires weekly treatments at a hospital in Hickory.

The detour adds time to the trip and while that has not been a critical issue yet, it could be in the future, Martin worries.

"If there is an emergency who knows what would happen and how long it would take for help to get here," Martin said.

Martin is hoping construction of a new bridge will move quickly. DOT officials say it could be after the first of the year before the project is complete.

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