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U.S. 21 bridge to be closed at night

Work on the new U.S. 21 bridge over the Catawba River is expected to close the existing bridge at night for several weeks - starting tonight.

Crews are setting 125-foot long, 30-ton beams on the new bridge piers.

A metal structure transfers the beams from trucks on the existing bridge to the new structure.

The beams are then welded to the piers.

John Huskins, state Department of Transportation resident construction engineer for the project, said the beams on the second span will be set today, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The work will close the bridge between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Drivers should plan to detour around the bridge by using Sutton Road and Interstate 77.

Occasionally during the day, one lane of the existing bridge is closed to accommodate work on the new structure.

"We ask people to be patient with us and pay attention to the message boards," Huskins said.

There are eight spans and 11 beams per span, he said.

One span has been completed and crews from Rea Contracting of Charlotte are installing bridge decking.

The new bridge, estimated to cost $23.1 million, will have five lanes, lanes for cyclists and sidewalks for pedestrians.

The current bridge has narrow lanes, no shoulders and no place for cyclists or pedestrians.

Huskins said bridge construction is on schedule and should be completed by November.