Lumina News file photo
In an effort to decrease traffic congestion, spectators have been asked to avoid Wrightsville Beach during the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon on Sunday, March 17.
A total of approximately 4,000 participants in the various parts of the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon, 5k and 1-mile Fun Run will compete in and around Mayfaire Town Center, Landfall and Wrightsville Beach, Saturday, March 16.
Of that 4,000, around 3,000 participants will compete in the full and half marathon races on the morning of Sunday, March 17. To minimize the traffic congestion around the town of Wrightsville Beach and on the two available lanes of the Heide Trask Drawbridge, the Wrightsville Beach Police Department, North Carolina Department of Transportation and race organizers have developed a plan Police Chief Dan House believes will be effective.
House said race organizers have been strongly encouraging all full and half marathon participants to ride the event’s busses to the starting location on Wrightsville Beach. They have also requested that any family members or spectators watch the race from any portion of the course other than Wrightsville Beach.
“The big problem we had with Beach2Battleship was all of the spectators filed out at once and completely gridlocked everything, so they are encouraging families and spectators not to come watch here but at another area of the race,” House said.
From the time the race starts at 6:10 a.m. until no later than 9:40 a.m., House said the northern lane of the drawbridge would be closed off for runners and that the southern lane would be reserved for vehicular traffic coming on and off the island. Traffic flow will be controlled by flaggers and will switch from eastbound traffic to westbound traffic depending on how much either side backs up.
With the marathon taking place Sunday morning, House said his department is concerned how it will affect traffic to and from Wrightsville’s four churches.
“It depends on what service you go to,” he said. “Definitely the earlier services will be affected, but later services probably will not.”
On the island, Salisbury Street will be closed from its intersection with Causeway Drive to North Lumina Avenue and all traffic will be diverted to Causeway Drive. This closure will also last from 6:10-9:40 a.m.
The rest of the marathon’s events — Saturday’s 5k and 1-mile Fun Run — will take place in Mayfaire Town Center.
House said the experience of managing the traffic from this race would help when the Beach2Battleship returns again in October while the construction on the Heide Trask Drawbridge’e northern two lanes occurs.