The Oakwoods Road bridge over Cub Creek in Wilkesboro could remain closed for about three more weeks or reopen in about a week, depending on what N.C. Department of Transportation engineers in Raleigh decide.
Reopening the bridge by the end of next week is possible if engineers decide some of the transverse steel cables holding the bridge deck’s 12 precast slabs of concrete tightly together need to be replaced but not the concrete slabs, said Andrew Glasco, transportation supervisor II in bridge maintenance for the DOT’s Wilkes and Caldwell county districts.
He said this would likely mean replacing three of these steel cables, which run horizontally through the concrete slabs. Exposed steel hardware placed on ends of these three cables became deteriorated to the point where the hardware no longer maintained cable tension.
Glasco said having to replace some of the 12 concrete slabs, likely two to four of them, would be a considerably bigger job requiring use of a crane and dismantling more of the current bridge structure.
Deterioration of some of the concrete slabs is visible on the underside of the bridge. Glasco said salt placed on the road surface to melt winter ice is a key cause of the deterioration.
Engineers studying reports on the bridge from DOT bridge inspectors to determine what repairs are needed are with the DOT’s Structures Management Unit.
The bridge was closed to traffic about 1:30 p.m. April 15 “out of an abundance of caution” after an inspection earlier in the day revealed repairs are needed, stated a DOT press release. An inspection conducted every two years found that some of the longitudinal and transverse steel cables holding the bridge deck’s 12 precast slabs of concrete tightly together had failed.
The two-lane, three-span Oakwoods Road bridge over Cub Creek was constructed in 1969, and underwent major repairs with placement of a couple of steel I-beams lengthwise under the bridge several years ago. The bridge’s weight limit was reduced to 19 tons for single vehicles and 25 tons for tractor-trailers some time back.
On the north side of the bridge, Oakwoods Road is closed where it intersects with Main Street, Wilkesboro. On the south side of the bridge, signs tell motorists the bridge is closed ahead but traffic is still allowed to access Bridge Street and the Forest Hills neighborhood.
The official detour, marked with detours signs, calls for taking Old U.S. 421 east from Wilkesboro to N.C. 115 and then to U.S. 421 Bypass near C.C. Wright Elementary School.
In the DOT’s current Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), right of way acquisition for a new Oakwoods Road bridge over Cub Creek is scheduled to start in June 2026 and construction in June 2028.