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Orange Co. bridge receives safety upgrade from DOT

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The North Carolina Department of Transportation installed guardrails leading up to the bridge in October. The North Carolina Department of Transportation installed guardrails leading up to the bridge in October.
DURHAM, N.C. -

An 80-year-old bridge in Orange County was given a safety upgrade a year after a fatal crash.

Merrill Davis died Oct. 14, 2012 when his car veered off a steep embankment beside the bridge on N.C. 751 in Duke Forest.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation installed guardrails leading up to the bridge in October.

"Once the Board of Transportation signed off on it at its October meeting, it was decided to go ahead with it as soon as we had the guardrails and a crew could be scheduled," DOT Spokesman Steve Abbott said.

Merrill Davis' mother, Tamela Davis, said guardrails might have stopped his car from going over the bank, even though the level of alcohol in Davis' system was twice the legal limit, according to the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

"While none of the improvements will bring my son back to me, it is my hope and prayer that NCDOT will spare another family the unbelievable pain of another fatality by replacing the 751 bridge," Tamela Davis said.

The DOT said the money will not be available to replace the bridge for at least 10 years.

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