Posted on March 15, 2023
Governor Roy Cooper visited Tyrrell County on Thursday to celebrate a $110 million MEGA grant from the Federal Highway Administration to replace the Lindsay C. Warren Bridge, commonly known as the Alligator River Bridge.
Governor Cooper was joined by Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt, NCDOT Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette, Tyrrell County manager David Clegg and Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard for a press conference to highlight the importance of a safe and reliable bridge across the Alligator River on Highway 64 just west of East Lake.
“Once in a generation opportunities require once in a generation investments, and that’s what we’re talking about here as we stand in front of the Alligator River Bridge,” said Cooper at a press conference at the Alligator River Marina.
“This bridge is a vital lifeline for commuters, for residents, for safety officials … and as an evacuation route. Having this reliable bridge, always there, is going to be critical,” he continued.
The Lindsay C. Warren Bridge was completed in 1962. It is a two-lane swing-span bridge across the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway that opens to let an estimated 4,000 boats to pass through annually. Vehicles must stop and wait while the swing-span opens and closes, causing traffic backups.
According to North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), the bridge is rated as structurally deficient and is at the end of its useful design life. This determination follows a $17 million rehabilitation project that only extended the bridge’s useful design life by seven years. There are electrical and mechanical issues with the swing-span component that cause it not to close for hours or longer, resulting in detours of more than 90 miles.
“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the funding that we received – the $110 million MEGA grant – those days are behind us,” said Boyette.
The grant – which includes the installation of broadband internet infrastructure – was awarded in January 2023 as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021, and was one of only nine MEGA grants awarded nationwide.
“There’s a lot that divides Americans these days but infrastructure is one of the few things that still bonds us together. There are no Republican roads. There are no Democratic bridges,” Bhatt said, commending the work of the Biden administration to provide much-needed infrastructure improvements to North Carolina.
The new bridge is planned just north of the existing bridge. It will be a two-lane, fixed-span structure with a 65-foot clearance, allowing boats to pass underneath without causing a delay to traffic. Whereas the existing bridge has 1-foot shoulders and a 2’10” railing, the new one will have 8-foot shoulders and a 4’6” railing. The total project cost is $294 million, including broadband.
The design will be completed this fall, NCDOT said, and bids will be accepted next year. Construction is expected to begin sometime in 2024.