Bridge replacement planned on Stokes Ferry Road

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 9, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

LIBERTY — More than five decades after it was first built, a bridge on Stokes Ferry Road is up for replacement by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The bridge, which crosses over South Second Creek, was built in 1964. It’s situated between Stokes Ferry Road’s intersections with Agner Road and St. Matthews Church Road.

Local residents recall seeing temporary repairs on the bridge at various points in recent years. However, Jimmy Ketchie, who lives a few dozen yards away, says he can hear and feel a rattle when 18-wheeler trucks cross the bridge.

On Monday, staff from the N.C. Department of Transportation held a public hearing at Morgan Elementary School to gather input on a replacement bridge that would cost $3.3 million, with construction starting in March 2018. The project would require putting in a temporary bridge to avoid closing the road during construction.

Matt Jones, DOT Division 9 bridge program manager, said the temporary bridge represents $1 million of the total cost. However, Ketchie, Liberty Fire Chief Darrin Trexler and others at Monday’s meeting said they prefer a temporary bridge to closing the road while work is done.

Because of St. Matthews Church Road’s reduction to one lane, Trexler said closing off the section of Stokes Ferry Road during constriction would be particularly difficult for traffic in the area.

“It will be good for us, especially with the other road issues that are going on,” Trexler said about the temporary bridge.

The detour bridge will be the first step in construction. Jones said some short-term closures could occur on weekends to connect the temporary bridge into the existing road. Once complete, traffic will be routed onto the temporary bridge.

Once construction on the new, permanent bridge is complete, the temporary bridge will be removed and the area restored to its original condition, Jones said.

Jones said the permanent bridge will have 12-foot lanes and at least a 4-foot shoulder.

Ketchie will have to temporarily give up part of his front yard for construction easements, but said the bridge replacement is long overdue. Closure may have negatively affected nearby businesses and required cars to drive a longer distance to get to the same location.

“I definitely think it’s a good idea,” he said. “The bridge needs to be replaced because of its age.”

The replacement should reduce the slope of a hill motorists face entering or exiting the bridge, but Ketchie said he wished DOT staff would have designed a road that straightened out curves leading to the bridge.

Once built, the bridge should last 75 years, according to Jones.

DOT staff will continue to collect public comments on the project until Aug. 22. Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled to start in January 2017.

For more information or to submit public comments about the project, call 919-508-1830 or email

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.