WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) – The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen held a special meeting Thursday evening to address the continued maintenance work on the drawbridge.
Representatives of the NC DOT were on-hand to answer questions about the bridge repairs and discuss the progress that has been made so far.
The bridge has been under construction since spring of last year, and the repair time was extended after additional maintenance work was added to the repair contract.
DOT representatives said that among other features, the bridge now has new submarine cables, a new generator, and many repaired cracks in its infrastructure.
They said they are presently trying to clean and paint the bridge as well as replace the mechanical parts underneath it that aren't immediately visible.
Many residents at the meeting were concerned about future lane closures that would occur as a result of the extended bridge work.
DOT representatives said in the coming months, lane closures may occur Sunday through Thursday nights from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., and Monday through Thursday during the daytime from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Representatives said complete shutdowns of the bridge may occur Monday through Thursday from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Starting October 1, the bridge will switch to temporary two-lane traffic. A third lane will be opened for the annual Beach2Battleship race.
Norman Akel, a Wrightsville Beach resident and real estate owner, was at the meeting and expressed concern over the effect bridge lane closures were having on local businesses. He said Thursday's meeting made him feel more optimistic.
"Previous to this meeting I had questions about why the bridge was taking so long to be repaired and especially the timing on some of the repairs," said Akel.
Karen Fussell, a division engineer for the NC DOT, said she understands the frustrations that residents of Wrightsville Beach are experiencing.
"We will all be very happy to see the completion of this project," said Fussell. "I think the citizens will have a more efficient ride. The businesses will be happy about it. I think it's a win for everyone."
Fussell said the bridge repairs are set to be officially completed on March 31 of next year.
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