10 Mar 2023
As it turns out the $110 million mega grant awarded to North Carolina to replace the aging Alligator River Bridge is a bigger deal than we realized at first. Apparently there have only been nine mega grants awarded from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill to date. So North Carolina getting one of them is a pretty significant.
That point really came home on Tuesday as Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) Secretary Eric Boyette, got together on the banks of the Alligator River by that little gas station/convenience store on the west side of the river. They were gathered to talk about the significance of the grant and how it will impact things.
Administrator Bhatt and Secretary Boyette in particular, made a point o noting the grant greatly accelerated the replacement of the aging Alligator River Bridge. Open to traffic in 1962, the bridge is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain.
The most apparent problem is the center span that is designed to pivot 90 degrees to allow boat traffic through. Three or four times a year the mechanism has been jamming, creating a 100 mile plus detour.
The bridge is part of US64 one of two highways that connect the Outer Banks with the rest of the world. US158 enters the Outer Banks using the Wright Brothers Bridge at Kitty Hawk and is the most frequently used access.
However, US64 is the direct route from the Outer Banks to Raleigh and has become an increasingly important road. It is also a job lifeline for Tyrell County that borders Dare County, which is the heart of the Outer Banks.
If all goes as well as is hoped, construction will begin in the winter of next year and may be wrapped up by sometime in 2025. The new bridge will have a 65’ high-rise in the middle giving plenty of room for boat traffic to pass underneath.
The Outer Banks is getting ready for the summer. Be sure to make those Brindley Beach Vacations reservations is as soon as possible.