As Fort Bragg nears the completion of its 100th year, it has seen an increase in size and population.
Though the roads may not be quite 100 years old, many on and around Fort Bragg are showing signs of degradation from age and increased use, according to representatives from the Fort Bragg Directorate of Public Works. Manchester and King roads are in particularly poor condition.
“The pavement itself is in serious need of repair and replacement … it is actually disintegrating,” said Tom Blue, chief, Project Management Branch, DPW.
Drivers who commute in from the direction of Southern Pines, North Carolina and Aberdeen, North Carolina via Manchester and King roads can expect to encounter hazardous conditions such as potholes and culverts and bridges that need repair.
King Road is currently closed, allowing for only local and military traffic, explained Erik Mitchell, deputy director, DPW.
“Those roads take a lot of non-Fort Bragg traffic … these roads were not designed to take the traffic volume they currently take, said Mitchell. “Higher traffic volumes increase road degradation.”
This increase in traffic can be attributed to the growth of surrounding communities and semi-trucks exiting major roadways to cut through the roads around Fort Bragg to avoid going through towns.
“In particular, tractor trailers with roof trussing and other heavy loads regularly traverse those roads,” said Blue.
Hurricane Matthew and every subsequent storm have highlighted the need to update the construction of many of the roadways on and around Fort Bragg, according to Mitchell.
With the imminent arrival of 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade, expected as early as March, the impact to these roads will only increase. In a recent study, 8,000 vehicles were recorded traversing Plank Road and 7,000 vehicles were recorded traversing Manchester Road in a 13-hour period, said Ray Goff, Fort Bragg minister of transportation. In the short term, DPW road crews will continue to perform temporary repairs, such as clearing gravel and applying cold patch asphalt to damaged sections of road. Increases in the frequency of repairs on exterior commuter roads impact DPW’s ability to maintain and repair the roads in the cantonment.
DPW’s road crews are over-taxed repairing exterior commuter roads, said Aaron Brown, operations and maintenance chief, DPW. In the long term, DPW is seeking money from their higher headquarters to assist in what Mitchell calls a “full-depth” repair of Fort Bragg’s roads. Another facet of the long-term plan involves transferring responsibility for these roads to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
“We are in the final glide-path to getting NCDOT to take over the maintenance operations of our training area roads,” said Mitchell.
The exterior roads would become part of the state road infrastructure.
In addition to the volume of traffic, weight of loads being carried and age of the roads, the speeds at which motorists are traveling impacts road conditions and safety on Fort Bragg roads.
DPW have posted revised speed limits in areas where roads are most degraded. Commuters to and from Fort Bragg can help by obeying speed limits and sign postings.
“Go slow,” said Mitchell.
Motorists will encounter loose gravel on degraded roadways and loose gavel at excessive speeds can be dangerous, he explained. Motorists may also reconsider which roads they are using to access the installation; taking an alternate road may prevent encountering road closures during commutes.
In recent months, motorist have driven directly through gates and road blockades in direct defiance of these road closures on both Connecticut Avenue and King Road.
Motorists driving through gates on closed roads are subject to consequences, including but not limited to, prosecution for the damage of federal property.
“If the sign says road closed, the road is closed,” said Brown.
In addition to putting oneself at risk, road crews are also at risk when motorists speed and/or ignore road closures.
Think back to the “That Guy” marketing campaign, said Mitchell.
“Well, “That Guy” is on our roads all the time.”
DPW asks that motorists drive with caution, follow speed limits and respect road closures on roads requiring or undergoing maintenance in and around Fort Bragg. Don’t be “That Guy.”