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Highway 17 construction continues past deadline

By Alison Parker
Published On: Feb 11 2013 05:34:14 PM CST
Updated On: Jun 19 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT
JACKSONVILLE, ONSLOW COUNTY -

Those at the Department of Transportation say the contracting company working on the Highway 17 bridge in Jacksonville could be fined for working past Monday's deadline.

David Candela with NCDOT says the company could face up to $5,000 in fines each day for working past the completion date, July 22.

"The bridge work's essentially complete and out of the way, but like I said, now it's mostly the paving, getting the lanes marked and getting everything where people can drive through there and have the full bridge to use," Candela said.

He hopes the bridge will open up to five lanes sometime this week.

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All the orange cones those in Jacksonville may see along the Highway 17 bridge will soon be gone. Those at the Department of Transportation expect the bridge to open one month from this weekend.

Business managers like Carly Schott of All-American BBQ and Smokehouse on South Marine Boulevard, is looking forward to the bridge reopening. She says the construction has affected her business.

"They've been blocking up our driveways," Schott said. "A lot of people think we're closed and stuff because of all those cones. It's just been crazy, with the debris everywhere. People are just trying to avoid this section of town."

Resident Engineer David Candela says there's still more work to be done, like cementing parts of the bridge for proper water drainage and paving connecting roads.

"Certainly even after the bridge opens, we'll probably still have some lane closures every once in a while to finish up little things, but obviously our desire is to get the bridge open to the fullest extent possible," Candela said.

Schott hopes the wait will pay off.

"It'll look beautiful when it's  done, and I think a lot of people just want to check out the new stuff, and in turn, it'll bring a lot of people this way, and hopefully a lot more business in here."

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Smith-Rowe, LLC Construction Company out of Mt. Airy, NC is now contracted under Barnhill Contracting to help finish the Highway 17 bridge renovations, according to David Candela, resident engineer for the Jacksonville-Onslow Department of Transportation.

Candela says crews are working up to the completion deadline, which is July 22.

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Kathryn Bynum owns the Ark Drive-In on South Marine Boulevard in Jacksonville. Her restaurant is caught in the middle of construction, construction on the Highway 17 bridge that's made it harder for her cusomters to stop in. Bynum says her business took a hit, losing hundreds of dollars a day.

Candela says the $11.8 million construction project began in August 2010.

But the road project took a detour in early fall 2012.

"The original contractor had some financial difficulties, and I believe
filed for bankruptcy, ending up being replaced by the company who bonded the contract," Candela said.

He says this caused construction to stop for several months. Those at the transportation department are working with a bonding company to find a new bridge contractor to finish the work on the bridge by July 22. Candela says he doesn't believe this will delay road work past this deadline.

Bynum hopes it's all over soon.

"I really do think that once the bridge is finished, I think it'll be a
really good service for all of us," Bynum said.