Serving Kenly, Selma, Smithfield, Princeton & Pine Level since 1973

New bridge halfway complete

DOT: I-95 road work a ‘short-term inconvenience’

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KENLY — For the past year, contractors have worked to replace the Truckstop Road bridge that crosses Interstate 95 at Exit 106 without having to detour traffic off the busy highway.

Crews will build the new bridge taller and wider than the one that stood there previously, and it will be long enough to allow it to accommodate the future widening of I-95 to either six or eight lanes at that location.

“We are modernizing, redesigning and rebuilding the entire interchange using what we call ‘stage construction’ that will allow us to keep the interstate open during construction,” said N.C. Department Transportation spokesman Andrew Barksdale. “By using this concept, no detour was necessary. We have built half of the new bridge and later will shift traffic onto the new half and demolish half of the old bridge in order to build the second half of the new bridge.”

Barksdale said the old bridge is 26 ½ feet wide and its replacement will be more than double that size with a width of 68 feet, one inch.

“The former bridge had one lane in each direction while the new bridge will have one travel lane in each direction plus turn lanes in each direction for the on-ramps to the freeway,” he explained.

The Fred Smith Co. of Raleigh received a $53.1 million DOT contract in 2017 to repave I-95 between mile markers 100 and 107 in Johnston County. The project includes replacing two other nearby bridges over I-95 at Lizzie Mill Road and Bizzell Grove Church Road.

“Once the earlier contract was awarded, we decided to go ahead and replace the Truckstop Road bridge as a supplement agreement added to the larger contract,” said Barksdale.

Construction cost for new Truckstop Road bridge and interchange and ramps will cost $5,853,571.

The Kenly bridge project has affected traffic that normally uses the Flying J Travel Center and Kenly 95 Petro truck stop complex and is located in the area where several other major changes involving overlapping highway construction projects along I-95 through Johnston County have taken place in recent years.

The first change involved the reopening of the on-ramp from Bagley Road to I-95 North that was closed off and on for three years, the result of a demolition and replacement project with both the northbound and southbound bridges over Little River near Exit 105 two miles south of Kenly.

In 2015, the NCDOT decided to replace the bridges, both of which were built in 1956 and had been classified at the time as being structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.

The location is just north of the exit used by most traffic when accessing Big Boy’s Truck Stop and the Lowell Mill Restaurant on Bagley Road.

Road work has negatively affected business at the truck stop and restaurant, a combined operation, which had to endure several temporary closures due to lack of customer access.

The Fred Smith Co. has also served as general contractor for the bridge replacement project over Little River near Bagley Road and the Big Boys Truck Stop.

“There will continue to be sporadic, occasional flagging operations on and around Truckstop Road, including the on- and off-ramps, until this project is completed by fall 2020,” said Barksdale. “We know this is a short-term inconvenience, but in the end, people will get a much wider bridge with turn lanes, which will improve traffic flow and safety after it’s finished.”