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Flat Rock residents pan proposed bridge

Boyd Drive bridge needs a $600,000 replacement, NCDOT says. Boyd Drive bridge needs a $600,000 replacement, NCDOT says.

FLAT ROCK — Several dozen Flat Rock residents turned out last week at the Village Hall to take a look at plans for a new bridge over Boyd Drive.

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Most of them came away puzzled that the N.C. Department of Transportation needs such a big project to cross a small creek under a lightly traveled residential street.
The NCDOT says the bridge needs to be replaced because it’s an obsolete wooden structure that can’t be repaired.
While about 21 residents gazed at bridge plans and renderings, DOT engineer Josh Deaton fielded questions about the plans.
“We’re trying to reach out to the community and receive any kind of input,” he said. “This is the design we’re considering for the replacement of this bridge. We’ve gotten to the point where rehabilitating it is not really an option. It’s a timber-supported bridge that’s got a lot of decay.”
Much like the Crail Farm Road and Little River road bridges, the bridge over Memminger Creek near the historic Saluda cottages is causing Flat Rock residents to question the look, cost and environmental impact.
“It’s absolutely devastating that this could happen,” said Kim Shipman Graziano, who crosses the bridge often. “I pass cars every day and the two of us can easily fit on that bridge. Someone almost hit a bear. Last week I picked up a turtle that somebody hit. There’s raccoons. There’s just an enormous amount of wildlife that will be affected by this.”
Joanne Estaver also viewed the proposal as construction overkill on a quiet narrow winding road.
“It just doesn’t fit,” she said. “There’s got to be a bridge that fits the neighborhood.”
Valerie Penn, who lives at 113 Boyd Drive at Meminger Creek, would be the most directly affected property owner.
“NCDOT’s plan would drastically change the age-old forest landscape around the bridge to something most garish by comparison,” she wrote to the Village Council in April. After she requested documents, the NCDOT sent her an inspection report from June 2013 noting that “certain maintenance work was to be done within 12 months.” None has been done in the ensuing 36 months. “Therefore, the state has bolstered their own argument that the bridge needs a replacement structure to be safe for all to travel in the future,” Penn said.
Deaton said the NCDOT tried to take residents’ concerns into account.
“We designed the project within our current design standards but at the same time we try to minimize the input as much as possible,” he said. “We have tried to minimize it, although it may not look like it.”
Relocating an 8-inch city waterline widens the footprint beyond the bridge construction itself. The line runs under the bridge and will be moved.
“It’s not ideal to put the line back under the new structure” for maintenance reasons, he said.
The bridge replacement, estimated to cost $600,000, is a couple of years away. The NCDOT will acquire right of way, do utility work and design the final plans first. It’s scheduled for an August 2018 construction let date.