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BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) – A morning commute that typically takes minutes is now taking nearly an hour for some drivers in Bladen County after a truck has been stuck on the Tar Heel Bridge for nearly a week.
The large truck, carrying dead hogs, was going across the Tar Heel bridge on Hwy. 87 Saturday morning when it became stuck, according to North Carolina DOT officials.
The road is currently closed, and Thursday, officials talked about how they're going to fix the problem.
According to Drew Cox, the Department of Transportation District Engineer for Bladen and Columbus counties, the truck did major damage.
"The nature of this impact actually damaged a lot of wind bracing," said Cox. "It also damaged some of the vertical beams on the outside of the bridge, and that's what supports the span over the river."
Earlier this week, folks in the area expressed their frustrations, because they now have to take a detour that's more than 35 miles out of their way. With no one working on the bridge, those frustrations are only increasing.
"It's turned a 20-minute drive I take every day to almost an hour," said Joshua Watson. "I've had to fill up like three times this week."
The closed bridge is causing problems for the Murphy Brown hog farm, as well.
"There are pig houses over there that deliver hogs to the plant," Watson said. "There are people who work at the plant."
Cox says he understands why, but adds that the DOT is moving quickly to reopen the bridge, despite what it may look like.
"For us, normally, the time a contractor is advertised to the time a contractor can start work is four to six weeks," said Cox. "We've had declarations made by management in Raleigh that would declare this an emergency, which allows us to bypass normal bidding procedures."
Cox says it's important that they carefully remove the truck so they don't do any more damage to the bridge.
"The bridge is up for replacement next spring," said Cox. "But while we're building a new one, the current bridge will be used as a detour."
Cox says that the initial estimate to repair the bridge in Tar Heel was $300,000, nut he believes they will be able to fix it at a price cheaper than expected.
The contractor is scheduled to start fixing the bridge next week, and it could take more than six weeks for it to reopen.
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