Q: Recently a new bridge and road pattern were built to replace the old Lasater Road bridge in Clemmons. Two weeks after the new bridge was opened it was closed due to flooding. Why did the new bridge not have a better design? This is an area known for flooding.

M.P.

Answer: The new Lasater Road Bridge is maintained by the N.C. Department of Transportation.

“We had a couple of citizens ask after that particular storm why the new bridge flooded so quickly after being opened to traffic,” said Pat Ivey with the DOT. The flooding in question happened Feb. 6.

Based on review of the project plans and the Federal Emergency Management Agency model for Blanket Bottom Creek and the Yadkin River, the intensity of the storm was greater than the new bridge was designed to handle, Ivey said.

“Most secondary road bridges are built to stay above the water level generated by a 25-year storm event, or a storm that statistically occurs every 25 years,” he explained.

“In comparison. U.S., N.C. and interstate routes are designed for a 50-year event. This bridge is impacted more by the flooding impacts created by the backwaters of the nearby Yadkin River rather than Blanket Bottom Creek, over which the bridge crosses.”

If designed for the flow of Blanket Bottom Creek alone, he said, the bridge would accommodate up to and over a 100-year storm event.

“Unless required by certain critical design issues such as traffic volume, evacuation access and traffic type, we typically do not design bridge crossings for backwater from larger flooding sources downstream,” he said.

“According to the Yadkin River model, the relative backwater was estimated to be of an approximate 10- to 25-year event. Based on the recorded data at stream gauge stations up and downstream of this location, that particular storm was one of the top-ten highest discharges along this section of the Yadkin River within the last 100 years of recorded data. Our designers also have to consider other regulatory agency requirements in the design, such as FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.”

The old bridge has been removed permanently, Ivey said, and the new bridge was closed temporarily because of the flooding.

Q: Is there any way to schedule a driver’s license appointment to get my REAL ID or do I need to wait my turn? When I phone the local driver’s license agency, I am not given the option to make an appointment.

H.A.

Answer: You will have to wait, but you have plenty of time to do that. Last month, the Department of Homeland Security pushed the deadline for getting the REAL ID back a full year, to October 2021, because so many DMV offices and state and local partners had temporarily closed or were busy on other matters during the pandemic.

A spokesman for Homeland Security told SAM that the delay will “allow the Department to work with Congress to implement needed changes to expedite the issuance of REAL IDs once the current health crisis concludes.”

Email: AskSAM@wsjournal.com

Online: journalnow.com/asksam

Write: Ask SAM, 418 N. Marshall St., Winston-Salem, NC 27101 

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