All lanes of the U.S. 17 bridge in Beaufort County now open

CHOCOWINITY, N.C. (WITN) -All lanes of the U.S. 17 bridge in Beaufort County are back open to travelers just before the holidays, but final touches will need to be completed in the new year.

The contractor working on the bridge removed equipment from the site to allow drivers to have full access.

The crews are waiting on materials before completing the project.

Work on the bridge over the railroad began more than two years ago but it failed a safety inspection after discovering that the concrete wearing surface and thickness were not up to specifications, causing the anticipated completion date to change.

Sarah Lentine, NCDOT Resident Engineer says, “The changed contract completion date is now December 16th. We’re going to go past that. There are liquidated damages that are applied when we go past our date to the contractor. That’s what we’re looking at right now.”

Republican State Representative Keith Kidwell believes the contractor is at fault for the delay. “I think what may’ve happened here is that we got a contractor, and this is their first bridge that they’ve built. I’ve got to understand from somebody why we’re using a rookie contractor. We’re going to be investigating this and I’ll come back with results.”

In January the NCDOT contractor plans to return to the bridge and complete the bridge joints and pavement markings.