LUMBERTON — Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a hit-and-run driver who took out a portion of the concrete rail on the Fifth Street bridge in downtown Lumberton during the weekend.
“The damage was pretty bad,” Maj. Tommy Barnes, of the Lumberton Police Department, said Wednesday. “Most likely they struck it, backed out and then went on.”
Officers discovered the damage about 4:18 a.m. Sunday, according to an incident report.
Barnes would not speculate on the size or type of vehicle that could knock out 10 feet of the concrete rail.
“We really don’t have any idea what kind of vehicle could have done this,” Barnes said. “Whatever it was most likely sustained substantial damage.”
Anyone with information leading to the identity of the driver is asked to call the department at 910-671-3845 and ask for Detective Cedrique Bridges or Detective Jordan Campbell.
If the hit-and-run driver isn’t identified, the cost will be absorbed by taxpayers, said Andrew Barksdale, a North Carolina Department of Transportation spokesman.
“We don’t know when it was struck, and once we learned about it, on Monday, we began repairing it,” Barksdale said. “As a matter of policy, if we do know who damages our bridges, guardrails, etc., we will bill them for the cost of the repairs.”
The cost of the repairs was not immediately available, he said.
“We didn’t do a cost estimate for this one. We decided we need to fix it right away. Our maintenance crews are working on it now,” Barksdale said. “We did the work in-house, so the cost would not be high, maybe some new materials and of course, man-hours of our employees. If this had not happened, they could be doing other maintenance work this week.”
Lumberton police alerted Transporations Department about the damage, said Steven Blanton, DOT transportation supervisor.
“We discovered the damage on Monday, and started repairs Tuesday,” Blanton said. “Ten foot of the rail was knocked off. There wasn’t nothing there. It was gone.”
Traffic did not appear to be affected despite one lane along West Fifth Street being closed, he said.
“Traffic flow was not interrupted,” Blanton said. “Work should be completed by Thursday afternoon.”
No other structural damage was done to the bridge, and it remains safe for use by motorists, Barksdale said.
One lane of the bridge will be closed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday so repair work can continue, according to the N.C. DOT.
Reach Annick Joseph by calling 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]