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2 bridges to be closed; traffic chaos is feared

Some residents in Northwest Hillsborough say their daily trek will turn into a commuter's nightmare when two bridges on Old Memorial Highway are closed this week.

The state Department of Transportation (DOT) plans to spend 10 months replacing the bridge over Rocky Creek, just west of the intersection of Sheldon Road and Hillsborough Avenue, DOT spokeswoman Lee Royal said.

A second bridge between Pistol Range Road and Countryway will be closed for about six weeks while a drainage structure is built underneath it.

Susan Bruns, who lives in the Timberlane subdivision, predicted that the Rocky Creek bridge construction will create a nearly impossible situation for residents trying to get in and out of her neighborhood.

"They're really cutting us off," she said.

Eastbound traffic will be rerouted around the Rocky Creek Bridge onto Mohr Road, then to Sheldon Road and back to Memorial, Royal said. Westbound traffic will detour from West Hillsborough Avenue to Sheldon Road to Mohr Road to Old Memorial Highway.

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Memorial, traffic also will face a detour during drainage work under a bridge near Pistol Range Road.

Westbound traffic will be rerouted from Old Memorial onto Pistol Range Road, then to Hillsborough Avenue, Countryway Boulevard and back to Old Memorial. Eastbound traffic will be rerouted to Countryway Boulevard, then to West Hillsborough Avenue, Pistol Range Road and finally back to Memorial, Royal said.

The $635,331 bridge reconstruction project will begin by the end of this week, officials said.

Some residents, meanwhile, are bracing for an onslaught of traffic through their quiet residential streets. But Royal said the only additional traffic going through the neighborhoods will be other residential traffic.

"It will be an inconvenience for the people out there because they'll have to take a detour route," Royal said. "If they have a problem, we will work with them to try to solve it."

Traffic figures were not available for Mohr Road. A traffic count in April 1988 for Old Memorial Highway north of Mohr Road showed 9,623 vehicles per day. The traffic count on Sheldon Road north of Mohr Road was 19,934 in January 1991, according to county records.

Jason Roberts, 19, who lives about a mile from his job at Albertsons on West Hillsborough Avenue, said he plans to double his travel time to and from work.

"It's crazy," Roberts said. "It's going to be a big inconvenience just because we're going to have to go all the way around."

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