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NCDOT Prepares To Start Second Half Of Cape Fear Memorial Bridge Repairs

By Audrey Elsberry, posted Apr 3, 2024
Construction workers will begin repairs on Cape Fear Memorial Bridge's two westbound lanes on Monday, April 8 following the Azalea Festival. (Photo courtesy of NCDOT)
North Carolina Department of Transportation officials are preparing for the closure of westbound lanes on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge on April 8 to complete the bridge's rehabilitation project.

Wilmington Resident Engineer Joshua Pratt spoke at an NCDOT press conference Wednesday and presented photos of the repaired stringers and grid deck replacement on the bridge's eastbound lanes. That work was completed on March 26, ahead of the scheduled reopening for this weekend’s Azalea Festival.

Pratt said Wednesday that after the Azalea Festival concludes, both westbound lanes will close on the night of April 8. Crews will begin closing the westbound lanes at 7 p.m. Construction is set to start on those lanes the night of April 9. The construction team’s daily schedule will be the same as it was for the eastbound lane closures, Pratt said.

Due to the construction team’s experience repairing the eastbound lanes, the timeline for the westbound repairs is shorter. Instead of the projected nine weeks for the eastbound lane closures, the westbound lane repairs are expected to take about seven weeks.

The bridge repair project is expected to wrap up on May 23. If the westbound lanes are repaired by that date, NCDOT will pay the contractor a $500,000 incentive. If the opening is delayed, the contractor will receive a $200,000 incentive to have the bridge open by June 28. 

On Tuesday, the dual right-turn lanes on U.S. 421 and U.S. 74 were removed. Those lanes facilitated more traffic turning onto the Isabel Holmes Bridge to travel into Wilmington during the eastbound closures.

On Thursday and Friday, an additional left turn lane will be installed on North College Road for those traveling toward Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, to create a triple left turn lane, said Trevor Carroll, NCDOT’s Division 3 maintenance engineer on Wednesday. The work to make the traffic changes is set to begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday and Friday nights.

“That’s the change that is necessary for these westbound closures,” Carroll said.

When construction begins on April 8, NCDOT will block the left turn off U.S. 421 South turning onto Isabel Holmes Bridge. All drivers will be encouraged to use Cape Fear Memorial Bridge’s newly renovated eastbound lanes to travel into Wilmington. This change will allow for longer green lights, Carroll said.

“As you all know, there are multiple ways to get onto the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge in the westbound direction,” Carroll said. “Our contractor and our NCDOT forces, we don't have the full resources to close all those down immediately at 7 p.m., so that's when our work will begin.”

“It will take several hours that night for us to complete that process,” he said. “Our footprint for the work is pretty large, (going in) different directions throughout the city.”

Businesses in Leland near the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge reported no noticeable change in customer activity throughout the past two months of bridge repairs. 

Donna Ruggiero of Brunswick Beer Xchange on Village Road in Leland told the Business Journal in an email on Wednesday that her team is not expecting any changes while work on the bridge continues. Mark Said of Leland Brewing Company echoed Ruggiero's thoughts. 
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