• 77°

Groundbreaking on Wil-Cox Bridge project to be held Monday

By Rebecca Rider

DAVIDSON COUNTY — On Monday, workers will break ground on what officials hope will become a tie between two communities.

The Wil-Cox Bridge, once a route across the Yadkin River between Rowan and Davidson counties, is being turned into a destination for bikers, walkers and nature enthusiasts. The groundbreaking will begin at 10 a.m. on the Davidson County side of the bridge, just off Highway 29.

“It’s nice to be able to get the construction started,” Guy Cornman, planning director for Davidson County, said.

Davidson County acquired the bridge in 2015, after the North Carolina Department of Transportation permanently closed the route following renovations to the Interstate 85 bridge over the Yadkin.

Officials from both counties wanted to preserve the bridge and the surrounding riverbank due to the area’s history.

“There is an extraordinary amount of history around that bridge. It is incredible,” said Max Walser, Wil-Cox Bridge Steering Committee chair.

The crossing was once a trading ford for Native Americans, and played a key role in the Revolutionary War when General Nathanael Green crossed the river fleeing from General Charles Cornwallis. George Washington also passed through the area during his 1791 southern tour; and one of the last battles of the Civil War was fought at Fort York, which overlooks the river just above the Wil-Cox Bridge. The bridge itself was built in 1924.

“It’s just rich in history,” Walser said.

Monday’s groundbreaking is the first of many steps that will turn the area into a vibrant park that will connect parks throughout the region.

“This is part of a grand plan,” Cornman said.

He envisions a linear park along the river with walking and biking trails, river access and connections to local trails and greenways.

“It could be a potential link to the Carolina Mountains to Sea Trail,” he said.

The site could also tie in Rowan and Davidson counties’ Carolina Thread Trail routes, and the area’s greenways. And if they can’t accomplish that, Cornman and others have a more modest goal.

“At the very least it will give folks a greenway or walkway to go upriver to Boone’s Cave Park,” he said.

The park is located several miles upriver from the Wil-Cox Bridge. And, of course, Fort York and its associated battlefield will be a prominent feature of the area.

But Monday is a modest start. DreamBuilt Construction, Inc. will begin preparing the bridge for pedestrians, including installing lighting, adding landscaping and shade and placing benches. The bridge will be closed to cars and other vehicles.

Along with the bridge, the Department of Transportation also gave Davidson County the $2.5 million it had set aside for the bridge’s demolition. It’s money that will go to preserve the bridge’s future.

“We have those monies invested for the long term maintenance and upkeep for the bridge,” Cornman said.

Because federal money is tied up in the project, the bridge must be inspected every four to six years, according to Cornman. Those involved in the project have been involved in a flurry of grant writing for the past few years, and are excited to see things get moving.

“People are going to look back, my grandchildren are going to look back, and say ‘what foresight they had to do all this,’ ” Walser said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 



Kannapolis brewery linked to eight COVID-19 positives


Local Democrats call to ‘turn the state blue’ during virtual office reopening


Funding flat, enrollment down slightly for Rowan-Salisbury Schools


Catawba gets high marks in U.S. News and World rankings for fifth year


China Grove soap store sets sights on expansion into Kannapolis


Charlotte, UNC game canceled after 49ers place players in quarantine


Blotter: Sept. 18


County sees ninth COVID-19 death this week, more than 30 cases reported


Gov. Cooper announces schools can move K-5 to plan A; school board vote needed locally


Wet weather brings crashes, traffic to standstill on interstate


Salisbury man victim of Facebook scam, duped out of $2,000


Two charged after fight outside Salisbury home


Rowan-Salisbury Schools ships out thousands of old devices for refurbishing


Caught in the infodemic: NC school policies frustrated by scientific challenges

East Spencer

East Spencer to hold community day, provide free food, supplies




Landis officials provide plan for COVID-19 funds, discuss town’s financial position


Blattner brought technology into schools before it was cool


State has slight decline in SAT scores


New environmental specialists begin work on backlog soil evaluations


Friends, colleagues say Seay left his mark on Rowan judicial system


Rep. Howard says ‘still work to be done’ as she seeks 17th term in House


Trump disputes health officials, sees mass vaccinations soon


‘Nothing left in the bucket’: Wildfire resources run thin