HICKORY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The wooden arches over a Hickory City Walk pedestrian bridge crossing NC 127 collapsed overnight.
The large wood arches were the centerpiece of the Hickory City Walk project that connects Lenoir-Rhyne University with downtown. The pedestrian bridge crosses over NC 127.
“We are saddened by this unfortunate event,” said Hickory Mayor Hank Guess. “Thankfully, no injuries were reported and collateral damage to the surrounding area appears minimal. We look forward to reopening this section of the City Walk.”
The contractor for the City Walk and an engineering group are assessing the damage, officials said.
In April 2021, the project hid a roadblock due to “concerns brought to the contractor’s attention during installation.”
A city spokesperson said a section of the wood arched showed signs of “stress” and construction was stopped out of an “abundance of caution.” Engineers with the arch’s manufacturer, Western Wood Structures, inspected the structure and came up with a plan to reinforce it.
“I would hate for it to fall down on somebody under the bridge or on the train. It would suck,” Hickory resident Emily Sypher told Queen City News in May.
City officials said the “iconic” structure cost $752,743 and was paid for by a bond referendum approved by voters in 2014.
The official cause of the overnight collapse is not known at this time. City officials said an investigation is underway to determine the contributing factors. Winds during Thursday night’s storms were around 26 mph, according to Queen City News Meteorologist Ted Phaeton.
Until that investigation is complete, the debris cannot be removed. Officials said a performance bond and warranty were in place to cover all aspects of the project to protect the public’s investment.
NCDOT said NC 127 is open to traffic in the area. The Main Avenue Bridge and Rudy Wright Bridge will remain closed until further notice.