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New Carolina Bridge in El Paso's Lower Valley to open soon

Construction on May 11, 2017 for the new Carolina Bridge in El Paso's Lower Valley, (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4).

A new bridge in the lower valley, in the works for over a decade, is near completion.

The Carolina Bridge has been under construction for close to a year. Residents, commuters and businesses in the area told KFOX14 that they're ready for the new bridge.

The bridge connects drivers between two busy streets in the lower valley: Alameda Avenue and Northloop Drive.

It also allows traffic to cross the Franklin Canal and Union Pacific rail tracks and avoid delays at the crossing just a block away that crosses the tracks off Cadwallder Drive.

Plans to tear down the bridge and reconstruct a new one have been in the works since 2006.The Texas Department of Transportation partnered with the city to finalize and move forward with the Carolina Bridge project.

“The bridge was deemed deficient ready back in 2006, so this project will include a total removal of the existing bridge and building a new bridge." Geoffrey Espineli, the Carolina Bridge project manager, told KFOX14 in 2015.

Demolition and reconstruction kicked off last June once funding was secure. The estimated project cost was over $7 million and the projected time frame for completion was 12 to 15 months.

TxDOTsaid the new bridge should be complete by the end of the summer.

Beatriz Garcia, the owner of B's Kids Castle Day Care, said she's excited for the construction to be over. "It has affected enrollment and parents have been frustrated having to navigate through the detours. Traffic backs up and people use our parking lot to turn around. I also wish they could have added more lanes to the bridge," she said.

Traffic backs up on alternate routes, onto the Delta Bridge west of Carolina and south of the bridge off Alameda Avenue. Carlos Alberto Castor, owner of Auto Mas, a used car dealership said the construction hasn't been that bad on his side.

"It hasn't been an issue. The construction of the new bridge hasn't hurt us. It's been the same and we still get business," he said.

Despite no major impact Garcia said he's looking forward to the new Carolina bridge.

"Access to the freeway would be quicker. For now we do have to take other routes but that's the only way it's really affected us," he said.

Once construction is complete the new bridge will have one lane in both directions like before, with new sidewalks and turn lanes.

Other drivers asked why more lanes weren't added to the bridge.

TxDOT said the bridge's width is constrained by the width of the surrounding streets. The bridge can’t be wider than the streets into which it feeds so no more lanes could be added.

To stay up to date on this project and traffic until construction is officially over follow @KFOXTraffic on Twitter.

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