By Steve Reed
SELMA — State highway contractor Fred Smith Co. says a subcontractor was responsible for a fallen power line across Interstate 95 between Micro and Kenly that caused a road closure last Thursday, diverting traffic in both directions.
“The contractor is Fred Smith Co. of Raleigh,” N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Andrew Barksdale said. “The contractor will be responsible for any damage the accident may have caused. The contractor was performing work for an NCDOT project.”
Barksdale said the cost of the damage has not been determined.
“We are doing a lot of work on Interstate 95,” said Brent Wood, the Fred Smith Co.’s vice president for legal affairs. “It was a subcontractor working for us that hit these lines, which were marked by us for safety reasons. We take great precaution to make sure things we do are safe for the traveling public and employees. We regret it anytime anything like this happens, large or small.”
Wood identified the subcontractor as Southeastern Caissons of Kernersville. Wood said Fred Smith will ask the subcontractor to cover the costs. He said there were no Fred Smith employees on site at the time.
“We are going to sit down and have a talk with them,” said Wood. “In general, they are a very good contractor. We’ll both do a safety analysis. Our first core value is safety. We want all of our folks to be able to go home,safely, I-95 [can be a] dangerous environment and we want to make sure to protect everyone involved.”
A Southeastern Caisson representative declined to comment.
The obstruction caused major backups last week. On I-95 North, the road was closed at exit 102 in Micro. For I-95 South, traffic detoured off exit 107.
The N.C. Department of Transportation coordinated with the N.C. Highway Patrol and a power company to remove the obstruction.
Barksdale said the interstate was reopened around 5:15 p.m. Thursday when the power company removed the fallen line. Then, between 1 to 2:30 a.m. Friday, NCDOT crews and state troopers executed a moving roadblock to allow utility workers to drape a new power line over the road and restore power.