NCDOT hosts public meeting to discuss potential replacement options for Wrightsville Beach drawbridge

NCDOT studying possible replacements for Wrightsville Beach drawbridge

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) - There could be a new gateway to Wrightsville Beach on the horizon.

The N.C. Department of Transportation recently conducted a feasibility study looking at replacing the Heide Trask Drawbridge, the only bridge in and out of Wrightsville Beach.

A public meeting to review the study is scheduled for Tuesday, May 21. An open house will take place 4:30-6:30 p.m., followed by a presentation 6:30-7 p.m. at the Wrightsville Beach Recreation Center.

There will be an opportunity at the meeting to submit written comments. If you can’t make the meeting, you can still submit comments via phone, email or mail by June 7, 2019 via:

The study includes five concepts for replacing the bridge ranging in cost from $69 million to $122 million.

The feasibility study states safety and the age of the current bridge as two of the key reasons to build a replacement.

Statistics show an average 467.11 crashes per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (MVMT) on U.S. 74 (Eastwood Road)/U.S. 76 (Causeway Drive) from SR 1409 (Military Cutoff Road) to Keel Street in a five-year span from May 1, 2012 to April 30, 2017. The crash rate was well above the state-wide average of 305.77 for similar U.S. routes.

According to the study, the current bridge is estimated to have a remaining life of 23 years but only after major rehabilitation costs.

The bridge, which has had an average annual maintenance cost of more than $230,000 over the last three years, underwent its last major rehabilitation project in 2014 at the cost of approximately $9 million.

The study states that DOT estimates that “major rehabilitation projects of this magnitude are required about every 10-15 years.”

The DOT will hold a public meeting about the project on Tuesday, May 21 at the Wrightsville Beach Recreation Center at 4 Russ Dr. An open house will take place from 4:30-6:30 p.m. with a brief presentation planned for 6:30 p.m.

Listed below are the five concepts under consideration along with information from the feasibility study and graphics:

Concept 1 - Northern drawbridge with roundabout. Total cost: $69.6 million

(Source: NCDOT)
(Source: NCDOT)

Concept 1 includes replacing the existing drawbridge with a new drawbridge to be located north of the existing structure, with a three-legged roundabout replacing the current US 74 (Salisbury Street) / US 76 (Causeway Drive) intersection configuration east of the bridge. The intersection at Airlie Road would become a right-in-right-out (RIRO) only movement. The bridge typical section features a bike lane on each side and a multi-use path on one side (north) to connect the Cross-City Trail in Wilmington to the existing multi-use path network on Wrightsville Beach.

Concept 2 - Southern drawbridge with roundabout. Total cost: $106 million

(Source: NCDOT)
(Source: NCDOT)

Concept 2 includes replacing the existing drawbridge with a new drawbridge to be located south of the existing structure, with a three-legged roundabout replacing the current US 74 (Salisbury Street) / US 76 (Causeway Drive) intersection configuration east of the bridge. The intersection at Airlie Road would become a RIRO only movement. The southern drawbridge features a larger bridge typical section than the northern drawbridge, providing a bike lane on each side and a multi-use path on each side. The multi-use path on the north side serves to connect the Cross-City Trail to the multi-use path network on Wrightsville Beach, and the multi-use path on the south side replaces the existing (to be removed) sidewalk on Causeway Drive, tying to existing sidewalk across the waterway.

Concept 3 - Northern high-rise bridge with roundabout. Total cost: $112.1 million

(Source: NCDOT)
(Source: NCDOT)

Concept 3 includes replacing the existing drawbridge with a high-rise bridge to be located north of the existing structure, with a four-legged roundabout replacing the current US 74 (Salisbury Street) / US 76 (Causeway Drive) intersection configuration east of the bridge. Residents along Summer Rest Road and businesses along Airlie Road would lose direct access to US 74 (Wrightsville Avenue). The bridge typical section features a bike lane on each side and a multiuse path on one side (north) to connect the Cross-City Trail in Wilmington to the existing multi-use path network on Wrightsville Beach.

Concept 4 - Southern high-rise bridge with roundabout. Total cost: $122.5 million

(Source: NCDOT)
(Source: NCDOT)

Concept 4 includes replacing the existing drawbridge with a high-rise bridge to be located south of the existing structure, with a four-legged roundabout replacing the current US 74 (Salisbury Street) / US 76 (Causeway Drive) intersection configuration east of the bridge. Residents along Summer Rest Road and businesses along Airlie Road would lose direct access to US 74 (Wrightsville Avenue). The southern drawbridge features a larger bridge typical section than the northern drawbridge, providing a bike lane on each side and a multi-use path on each side. The multi-use path on the north side serves to connect the Cross-City Trail to the multi-use path network on Wrightsville Beach, and the multi-use path on the south side replaces the existing (to be removed) sidewalk on Causeway Drive, tying to existing sidewalk across the waterway.

Concept 5 - Northern drawbridge with upgrade of current intersection configuration. Total cost: $89.2 million

(Source: NCDOT)
(Source: NCDOT)

Concept 5 includes replacing the existing drawbridge with a new drawbridge to be located north of the existing structure, with the current US 74 (Salisbury Street) / US 76 (Causeway Drive) intersection configuration being maintained east of the bridge. The intersection at Airlie Road would become a RIRO only movement. The bridge typical section features a bike lane on each side and a multi-use path on one side (north) to connect the Cross-City Trail in Wilmington to the existing multi-use path network on Wrightsville Beach.

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