Aerial view of the Alligator River Bridge showing the swing draw span that jams from time to time.
Aerial view of the Alligator River Bridge showing the swing draw span that jams from time to time.

The Alligator River Bridge—the Lindsay Warren Bridge—closed to traffic at 2:30 yesterday. Two and a half hours later it reopened. The problem, which has increasingly plagued the bridge over the past three or four years was the gearing that swings the bridge open for boat traffic malfunctioned.

The bridge was opened in 1962 and at the time it was one of the longest bridges in North Carolina and somewhat of a technological leap forward.

Alligator River Bridge-Why It’s Important

Perhaps more importantly, it finally connected the Outer Banks with the rest of the state. Before that, any trip off the Outer Banks was across a rickety predecessor to the Wright Memorial Bridge, followed by a trip to Elizabeth City then west. Without the bridge, and hour and a half to two hours is added to any trip to the Outer Banks from the south or west. Getting to Plymouth or Columbia from the Outer Banks takes about three times longer than it would would without the bridge.

NCDOT is currently working to improve the Alligator River Bridge, but the fact is, it is an aging, heavily used span, barely able to handle the traffic crossing it in the best of circumstances.

What may compound those problems are the state’s plans to widen and improve US 64 on both sides of the bridge. 

At this point in time NCDOT does not list any Alligator River Bridge project beyond the current improvements. The bridge is considered safe to use, and the may be why, with so many other major projects in the northeastern corner of the state nothing is planned for the foreseeable future, but the ongoing problems with the bridge may change that.

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