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Ellis Street bridge closed temporarily

The city has temporarily blocked vehicle traffic on the 400 block of North Ellis Street after a state inspector ordered repairs to the bridge there.
According to Dan Mikkelson, director of city engineering and development services, an inspector with the N.C. Department of Transportation directed the city Tuesday to close the Ellis Street Bridge to vehicular traffic until deck repairs are made, which could take several weeks or months.
Railroad tracks run under the bridge. Until repairs are made, vehicles on Ellis will detour to Fulton Street and cross the at-grade crossing, one block away.
The traffic signal at the intersection of Cemetery and Ellis streets will be placed into flash mode, with Cemetery Street receiving the flashing yellow signal, and Ellis Street receiving the flashing red signal.
The city’s Street Division posted signs on the Ellis Street Bridge, also known as the Shober Bridge. The areas to repair have been marked with orange paint.
Mikkelson said the nature of the deck repairs should not affect the decision-making process for replacing the bridge, a project the city has had under consideration for several years.
“If City Council votes to replace the bridge, the deck repairs would still be needed to keep the bridge open for the next two years or so while the design is being completed,” Mikkelson said in an e-mail.
“If City Council votes not to replace the bridge, the deck repairs would still be needed to keep the bridge open while the city evaluates whether or not to rehabilitate the bridge.”
The deck repairs will be coordinated with Norfolk Southern Railroad.
“At this time, I assume it will take several weeks to several months to coordinate the repairs and re-open the bridge to traffic,” he said.
Mikkelson was to meet last night with the Ellis Graded School Historic District Neighborhood Association to discuss the bridge replacement project.
City Council will conduct a public hearing Jan. 5 at 4 p.m. on the subject.
Public bridges are required to be inspected every two years under a federal program. Inspections are coordinated by the State Department of Transportation.

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