Plan includes spotter, safety catch-pan for six-week operation
ASHEVILLE – An old Interstate 26 bridge over the French Broad River is coming down, and N.C. Department of Transportation officials are implementing a safety plan to protect boaters.
The contractor on the I-26 widening project recently installed a variety of safety measures to prevent material from falling into the river and will add additional resources once they start working over water.
A spotter will be placed upriver from the bridge and will be in communication with the removal team. In an emergency, the spotter will alert the team to pause operations.
“Access to this stretch of river will be limited during bridge removal,” said Luke Middleton, Resident Engineer on the project. “We intentionally scheduled demolition for this slow time of year on the river to avoid conflicting with journeys on the river.”
NCDOT and the contractor, Fluor-United Joint Venture, plan to complete bridge removal in less than six weeks. Crews recently started working over the western riverbank.
The removal process — approved by state and federal environmental agencies — includes cutting sections of the structure, followed by removal of cut pieces and girders, followed by the extraction of pier columns.
“We are limiting the chances that removing the bridge will interfere with anyone’s experience on the French Broad River,” Middleton said. “We will also avoid all possible safety and environmental hazards associated with this operation.”