Construction around Coinjock the culprit in Saturday’s Outer Banks traffic crush

Traffic was crawling along U.S. 158 in Coinjock for much of Saturday. [Sam Walker photo]

A pair of on-going construction projects along U.S. 158 that had lanes blocked in both directions on Saturday in the Coinjock area of Currituck County caused major back-ups throughout the day.

As part of the contracts signed with the N.C. Department of Transportation, the private companies running the projects are required to remove all equipment and safety barriers and reopen all lanes in both project areas by Friday morning between the Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

During the morning, westbound U.S. 158 delays ran over 30 minutes to travel from Grandy to the J.P. Knapp Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, which has been undergoing a rehabilitation project throughout 2019.

The outside lane on the Coinjock Bridge was closed on the northbound side, as contractors has run into delays trying to finish resurfacing the concrete road deck since the spring.

But by the afternoon, workers from Freyssinet, Inc. had been summoned by the N.C. Department of Transportation to the bridge to remove the equipment get both lanes reopened.

The delays became even longer for traffic trying to reach the Outer Banks in the afternoon on U.S. 158 East, with some drivers saying it took as much as an hour just to travel from the N.C. 168 intersection in Barco to the bridge over the Coinjock Cut of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal.

That’s because of the asphalt replacement project by Barnhill Contracting between the bridge and Poplar Branch.

It was originally supposed to have been completed by the end of June, but has run into numerous delays this summer.

The inside, eastbound lane was closed from near Aydlett Road. Crews had just laid asphalt along part of that stretch on Friday.

Traffic back-ups along the N.C. 168/U.S. 158 corridor caused by contractors either not following directions from NCDOT, or after being scheduled by personnel in Raleigh who did not consult with local staff.

It happened in September 2014 along the Wright Memorial Bridge when a bridge inspection contractor from Culpeper, Virginia followed directions from the state Capitol that it was just fine to shut down one lane.

Personnel from NCDOT’s Division 1 quickly ordered the inspection crew to clear the bridge to ease the back-ups.

NCDOT also had similar no weekend lane closure in September requirements for the projects that rehabilitated both sides of the Wright Memorial Bridge in the offseason between 2014 and this past spring.

About Sam Walker 307 Articles
Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and Classic Rock 92.3. Reach him at sam@obxtoday.com

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