The North Carolina Department of Transportation will close two or more lanes of the Heide Trask Drawbridge on U.S. Highway 74/76 from Monday, Oct. 1, to mid-March, 2013, for a bridge rehabilitation project. Town manager Bob Simpson said the date when the bridgework is expected to be complete has varied and that it will last until at least March but could last longer depending on the progress of the work.
All lanes of the bridge will be closed overnight on approximately 12 occasions from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. During these times, police officers will be stationed on either side of the bridge, with only emergency vehicles allowed across. The first overnight closure will begin at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3, through Thursday, Oct. 4, at 5 a.m. Simpson said police chief Dan House has notified bar owners on the island about the closures and traffic shifts so that they may inform their customers.
Additional overnight work will require closing three of the four lanes between 11:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., with eastbound and westbound drivers alternatively using a single lane. A temporary traffic signal will be installed to direct motorists across the drawbridge during these closures. During daytime hours, two lanes will remain open to accommodate eastbound and westbound traffic.
Stops signs have been erected on Salisbury Street, close to the entrance to the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission public boat dock, to alter the flow of traffic moving off the island in preparation for the replacement of the bridge’s steel grate.
“I know that is problematic for a lot of people but we have no control over that, that is exclusively a DOT thing,” Simpson said regarding the stop signs. “As they replace the grid they will move from the north end to the sound end so all traffic will be funneled to one lane.”
Simpson said the town has received numerous complaints and questions about the stop signs but he has reassured citizens that the traffic pattern will return to normal once the bridgework is completed.
Other aspects of the bridge rehabilitation project include upgrades to the operator house, and the replacement of motors, locks and other functioning elements of the bridge. Two lighted message boards on either side of the bridge will inform motorists of the shifting traffic patterns for each of these projects.