North Carolina Construction News staff writer
A $110 million federal grant is critical for the Alligator River bridge replacement project, a span vital to residents and travelers on North Carolina’s coast, says Gov. Roy Cooper.
The new bridge will include 65 feet of clearance over the channel and will have 8-foot shoulders and railings of 4.5 feet. The current span has one-foot shoulders and a railing of 2-feet-10 inches.
An environmental document has been completed and right of way plans and acquisition are underway. The final bridge design is expected to be complete this fall. NCDOT expects to begin the bidding process in 2024 with construction starting later that year.
“For decades to come, this bridge will make driving and boating safer, faster and more efficient for people traveling through this area,” said N.C. Department Transportation Secretary J. Eric Boyette. “From aiding in hurricane evacuations to improving our economic development prospects, this project is a great investment in our state’s transportation future.”
The project is to replace the current Lindsay B. Warren Bridge, a two-lane, 2.8-mile swing span, with a two-lane high-rise bridge. The new bridge will be higher and wider than the current span, enabling boats and vehicular traffic to move without any interruption.
Currently, more than 4,000 boats pass through the area each year, forcing vehicle traffic to stop while the swing span opens and closes. Also, the 60-year-old swing span occasionally experiences electrical or mechanical issues that can cause the bridge to get stuck for hours or even days. If the bridge is stuck in the open position, vehicular traffic must take a detour of more than 90 miles. If it’s stuck in the closed position, maritime traffic must use the Pamlico Sound as a detour.
The price tag for the new bridge is about $294 million, including the cost to install broadband between I-95 in Rocky Mount and N.C. 12 in Nags Head, an area historically underserved by internet access.
The project is one of nine transportation projects nationwide to receive the mega grant, which is part of infrastructure law for projects too large or complex for traditional funding programs.
“NCDOT was successful in securing one of the first grants announced under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s new mega grant program, and we are proud to partner with transportation leaders in North Carolina to advance this critical project,” said FHWA Administrator Bhatt.