With seven months of remaining Heide Trask Drawbridge
repairs, Wrightsville Beach residents voiced concerns about communication
issues, construction quality, unpredictability of closures, traffic speeds and dangerous
Residents also made some suggestions to North Carolina Department
of Transportation engineers during a joint meeting with the Town of
Wrightsville Beach on Thursday, Aug. 22.
Some residents suggested making the intersection of Eastwood
Road and Wrightsville Avenue safer, similar to what was done with the
intersection of Airlie and Eastwood roads in 2012 when it switched to a right
in and right out only. Others had innovative ideas like having the bridge
tender Tweet updates about when the bridge is about to go up or a boat is on
“There are other solutions like putting cameras, but this
one doesn’t cost anything,” Tom Thompson said.
About 77 percent of the repairs are done. The completion
date is scheduled for March 31, 2014, which was first pushed back with the
permitting process and was again delayed when $2.5 million of additional work —
deck rehabilitation, cleaning and painting — was added on to the original $5.65
Karen Fussell, NCDOT division engineer, said she wanted to
stress more than anything else that if the contractor, American Bridge Company,
cannot work the date will be delayed further.
“We just do not want to be here in summer 2014,” Fussell
said, prompting laughs from residents.
Accommodations are being made again for Beach2Battleship on
Oct. 26 to keep three lanes of the bridge open for participates, but Fussell
said she cannot promise the same for the North Carolina Holiday Flotilla on
“I don’t ever promise something I can’t deliver,” she said,
explaining that the contractor will be working on the epoxy overlay.
The contract between NCDOT and American Bridge includes a
deadline and penalty phase for delays, including liquidated damages. But
because work was added to the project, American Bridge is not currently being
charged those fees. No representatives from American Bridge were present during
On Tuesday, Aug. 27, the bridge will remain open for 24
hours from 7-7 p.m. unless there is an emergency. And beginning on Oct. 1, the
bridge will reduce to two lanes, like Fall 2012.
Fussell explained the reason the overnight closures,
scheduled from Monday, Aug. 19, through Wednesday, Aug. 21, were not
implemented two of the three nights was because the bridge cannot be painted in
cold or damp weather.
“They did actually work a full night last night,” Fussell
Full story will be
printed on Thursday, Aug. 29.