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Hawthorne Lane Bridge Opening Delayed -- Again

Hawthorne Lane bridge
David Boraks
This 2019 photo shows construction on Hawthorne Lane bridge halted when wrong-sized girders were used.

The opening of the Hawthorne Lane bridge over Independence Boulevard to vehicle traffic has been delayed -- again.

The bridge, which has been closed since 2017 for construction work to accommodate the Gold Line streetcar extension, had been expected to open this month after being plagued by numerous delays. This is the second official delay in the completion date.

The city of Charlotte issued a statement Friday that said "due mainly to construction delays," the bridge will not open to cars, but "the City plans to open the bridge to pedestrian and bicycle traffic by the end of the month."

"We anticipate the bridge will be open to cars by the end of the year," the statement said.

The opening of the $150 million streetcar extension already had been pushed to January, and the city said in its statement that the opening still appears on track.

In a more detailed explanation of the latest error, the city said the contractor poured concrete incorrectly in preparation for rail installation, resulting in incorrect elevations. "The elevation differences must be fixed before rail can be installed," the FAQ said.

Delays have included rebuilding the Hawthorne Lane bridge, and a stoppage of work for nine months in 2019 when the contractor had to reorder beams that were the wrong size. 

In a June 23 federal budget meeting CATS said the contractor, Johnson Brothers, is "ineffective in project management, rail installation and bridge construction resulting in poor budgeting, scheduling, construction and/or quality."

The city said it uses a "competitive bidding process" to select a contractor, and state law requires it to award the contract to the "lowest responsive responsible bidder."

The city says its contract requires the contractor to cover the cost of redoing work.

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Jodie Valade has been a Digital News and Engagement Editor for WFAE since 2019. Since moving to Charlotte in 2015, she has worked as a digital content producer for NASCAR.com and a freelance writer for publications ranging from Charlotte magazine to The Athletic to The Washington Post and New York Times. Before that, Jodie was an award-winning sports features and enterprise reporter at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. She also worked at The Dallas Morning News covering the Dallas Mavericks — where she became Mark Cuban's lifelong email pen pal — and at The Kansas City Star. She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University and a Master of Education from John Carroll University. She is originally from Rochester Hills, Michigan.