NCDOT reopens the Castle Hayne Bridge over Smith Creek two years after it was closed

The Castle Hayne Bridge over Smith Creek has been closed to traffic since 2021 when a container truck struck the steel truss. After demolishing the old structure and building anew, NCDOT will celebrate its reopening on Tuesday. (Courtesy Google Earth)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Two and a half years after a truck crashed into a bridge in Castle Hayne, permanently closing the road, traffic will start flowing again Tuesday.

READ MORE: NCDOT will replace the Castle Hayne Road bridge this summer

In May 2021, a container truck crashed into the steel truss bridge over Smith Creek, closing the structure. Drivers were using NC 133 and Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway as a detour.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation was in the planning stages of replacing the bridge at the time and decided to accelerate the timeline rather than pay for costly repairs.

The project was originally expected to be licensed in April 2022, but the project was moved 10 months after the accident. NCDOT spokeswoman Lauren Haviland said the schedule change did not affect any other planned projects.

Civil Contracting LLC demolished the bridge in November 2021 after receiving a $3.9 million government contract to rebuild the bridge.

On Tuesday, state and local officials will celebrate the reopening of the Smith Creek Bridge at 1200 Castle Hayne Road.

The new two-lane bridge will be 15 feet longer than the previous bridge, up 263 feet from 248. The previous 14 feet of vertical clearance for vehicles no longer exists, and water navigation clearance remains at 8 feet.

The horizontal navigable area was nearly doubled from 45 feet to 97.4 feet to accommodate boats.

The new bridge has also been expanded to accommodate bicycle and pedestrian paths. There are now 7-foot and 5-foot bike lanes and a 5-foot sidewalk.

The steel truss bridge was built in the 1930s by the T.A. Loving Company, and was completed in December 1931. According to NCDOT, the bridge is one of the oldest and most complete examples of a swing bridge in the state.

The swing bridge rotates on a horizontal plane around a vertical axis to allow ships to pass through it. The operator’s room and controls have been replaced over the years, but the structure retains its original gears and mechanical systems prior to demolition.

NCDOT replaced its deck and stringers in 1962 and reinforced the floor beams with welded beams in 1982 but the structure remains largely original.

Before its removal, approximately 2,700 vehicles crossed the bridge daily.

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