Cramerton gets new pedestrian bridge across the South Fork River to Goat Island

An 800-ton crane groaned as it lifted a 165-foot-long pedestrian bridge into place across the South Fork River in Cramerton on Tuesday.

The 12-foot-wide, 90,000-pound, prefabricated span connects the eastern Gaston County town’s central business district with a public park on the 30-acre Goat Island.

The bridge is part of a $1.5 million, phase two park development that includes an 18-hole disc golf course, permanent cornhole and pingpong facilities, exercise pavilion, new playground equipment, observation pier and dog park.

When the bridge opens in the spring, people will be able to walk to downtown Cramerton from the Lakewood neighborhood and the new South Fork Village, a complex of 350 apartments on Wilkinson Boulevard. The bridge and town’s greenway will serve as a major north to south section of the Carolina Thread Trail into Gaston County.

On Tuesday, Cramerton Mayor Ronnie Worley stepped onto the new bridge long enough to take photos up and down the South Fork River and the business district.

“This is going to be the jewel in our downtown,” he said. “It is exciting. I think it’ll be something that changes downtown.”

Town Manager Michael Peoples said the bridge will not only make a significant impact on connectivity, but it will also give the town a major aesthetic boost.

“It will be what people see when they come to Cramerton,” he said. “It will be a postcard picture for folks.”

Blythe Construction of Charlotte and Rockingham-based Superior Cranes Inc. installed the bridge on Tuesday. Peoples said one of the largest cranes in the southeastern U.S. was used to lift the black-painted steel structure into place. The crane had 240,000 pounds of counterweight to keep it balanced, he said.

People stood by to watch and take photos.

“It’s going to be something to see,” said Shad Walters, design engineer with McGill Associates of Hickory. “Pretty impressive.”

Cramerton resident Teresa Schiavoni welcomed the new bridge as a good addition for anyone headed to the park, whether they are walking, running or cycling.

“It’s great for kids,” she said. “It’s great for the community.”

Schiavoni, who moved to Cramerton 15 years ago, is a big fan of Goat Island.

“When we first came, we didn’t even know it was an island,” she said. “We thought it was the other side of the river.”