River Road closure for culvert repair starts Monday, drivers urged to prepare for extra traffic

River Road closure for culvert repair starts Monday, drivers urged to prepare for extra traffic

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - After roughly two years, a collapsed drainage culvert that has plagued city of Wilmington crews will finally be replaced — but it will come at a cost to some commuters.

Beginning Sept. 30, a portion of River Road will be closed for approximately six months so a large drainage culvert near Raleigh Street can be replaced and a CFPUA force main sewer line can be relocated.

A temporary traffic light has been installed at the intersection of Sunnyvale Drive and Carolina Beach Road to accommodate for the increase in traffic, as the city has published a suggested detour for both industrial and regular down Raleigh Street and Sunnyvale.

A map shows the suggested detour for those who use River Road.
A map shows the suggested detour for those who use River Road. (Source: City of Wilmington)

The culvert, which is located just south of the Raleigh Street, was damaged in 2017 and failed again last year during Hurricane Florence.

Public Works director Dave Mayes said the concrete pipe has nearly completely collapsed, and while the road has remained open thanks to temporary repairs, it’s time for a complete overhaul.

“We can’t afford to leave it the way it is," he said. “Otherwise we’d be patching the road every year. We’d be paying for pumps and fuel to run it, much less diverting our staff down there when they could be doing other things.”

By clearing out the original pipe, moving the utilities and replacing the entire system, Mayes said they can improve the overall drainage in the area, hopefully eliminating the need for future repairs.

"This is a very comprehensive, well thought out, long-term solution that we won’t have to come back to this for a long time,” he said.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is contributing $885,000 to the $1.37 million project because of the relocation of the force main sewer line.

That relocation, along with issues created by the project’s proximity to the neighboring rail line, is part of the reason the project is expected to take about six months.

Mayes said the River Road project is one of about 70 different drainage and street projects the city is engaged in thanks to Hurricane Florence.

With the one-year anniversary of the storm in the rear-view mirror, Mayes said they are glad to finally have FEMA and other necessary approvals to begin that work.

“It takes a long time to get this stuff done, especially when you’re dealing with 70 separate locations. So, patience is appreciated by the public, and we look forward to getting it done so that we don’t have to worry about those locations anymore.”

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