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Saluda, N.C.'s Historic Green River Bridge Spared by the NCDOT.

Saluda's historic Green River expansion bridge is going to be saved by the NCDOT and used for only pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The 200-foot-high, 580-foot-long triple-arched expansion bridge was slated to be replaced by the NCDOT due to its deteriorated state and because it is not wide enough to meet current highway standards. The replacement bridge is being constructed next to it to handle the vehicular traffic for US 176.

At the time of its construction in 1927, the Green River Bridge was the highest expansion bridge in the eastern United States, according to Saluda Mayor Kim Talbot. Talbot also said, "The Green River Bridge was unique, not only because of its height, but also because it was designed and constructed by the NCDOT. The NCDOT normally pays to have a bridge designed and then pays to have a contractor construct it. In this particular case, the NCDOT did both jobs themselves."

The NCDOT had $240,000 budgeted for the bridge's demolition. The NCDOT is now going to use those funds to repair the bridge and make some minor improvements. Talbot says, "Pedestrian handrails are going to be put on the bridge, they are going to patch the exposed steel, regrade the drainage and put in new drains so water does not stand on the bridge, and resurface the bridge." The entrances on either end of the bridge will be closed to vehicles.

The Green River Bridge and US Highway 176 were the principle links to Spartanburg from the Saluda and Hendersonville areas. When I-26 was constructed in the mid-1960s, traffic was diverted from US Highway 176, and the Green River Bridge was allowed to slowly deteriorate. When the NCDOT evaluated the condition and the size of the bridge two years ago, they decided that the bridge needed to be replaced.

Henderson County Commissioner Bill Moyer is credited with spearheading the campaign to save the bridge. The NCDOT considered the bridge to be a liability once the new bridge was completed, and they had scheduled the Green River Bridge for demolition. Moyer contacted the NCDOT and convinced them that the bridge was worth saving, even if it was only used for pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Talbot hopes that some local garden clubs will get involved with the bridge. Talbot says, "There is some property available at the entrances on either side of the bridge that can be used for gardens and parks. We hope some of the local garden clubs will choose to get involved and develop these areas for gardens and parks."

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