American Bridge Company and the North Carolina Department of Transportation will again be conducting overnight closures of the Heide Trask Drawbridge. Beginning this Sunday, Sept. 8 through Wednesday, Sept. 11, the drawbridge will be closed for cleaning and painting the structural steel from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.
This is the first planned four-night, overnight closure scheduled by the contractor. Two previously planned three-night closures have been disrupted by inclement weather. NCDOT resident engineer Kerry Cross said they are hoping all four nights will not be needed but that the extra night was reserved to account for bad weather.
The cleaning and repainting work can only be completed under dry conditions and past overnight closures have been canceled due to high humidity and rain.
During the last round of overnight closures Cross alerted Wrightsville Beach town manager Tim Owens when the planned closures were canceled and Cross said he would do the same again this time.
Once alerted, Owens said he would send out a mass email to the town’s email list to alert residents, businesses and visitors of a change in plan.
During the overnight closures, only emergency vehicles will be allowed to cross the bridge. Patrol cars and officers with the Wrightsville Beach Police Department will be stationed on both sides of the bridge throughout the evening.
Two beach residents, Frank Potter and Lynwood Gainey, said while racing home to the beach from the Myrtle Beach airport on Wednesday, Aug. 21, Wilmington police officers at the bridge turned them away at 11:29 p.m. even though west-bound traffic was still streaming off the beach.
Potter and Gainey were forced to stay on the mainland side for the night.
“It upset me that we got caught by the bridge with one minute to spare. I think there should be a provision for homeowners who live on the beach, we have a life, too,” Potter said.