RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — It will be a longer trip to the Outer Banks for most drivers in North Carolina starting next Tuesday.
The Department of Transportation is closing the U.S. Highway 64 drawbridge over the Alligator River for 12 days of repairs early Tuesday morning. Workers hope to reopen the bridge on April 14.
Crews will replace the pivot on the 53-year-old bridge, which allows it to open and close. The structure's balance wheels, gears and shafts will also be replaced as part of the $500,000 project.
The nearly 3-mile bridge, which opens 500 times a month to allow ships to pass through on the Intracoastal Waterway, is set to be rebuilt in a few years as part of a $277 million project to widen 16 miles of U.S. 64. But John S. Abel, who takes care of DOT bridges in the northeast part of North Carolina, said the bridge was seeing too many issues and needed a temporary fix now.
"She's always been temperamental. In the last five years we began to see more problems — where the bridge is being stuck where she won't open, or she's stuck in the open position. We've done a lot of work on that bridge to keep it open," Abel told The News & Observer of Raleigh (http://bit.ly/YPes0E).
The DOT wants the bridge reopened by noon on April 14. Contractor PCL Civil Constructors, Inc., of Tampa, Fla., will get $300 back for each hour it opens the bridge before the deadline, and will lose $300 an hour for each hour it goes over the deadline.
Two detours have been set up. The official one set up on U.S. 64 is a 60-mile detour on NC Highway 94 and U.S. 264 that brings drivers back to U.S. 64 at Manteo.
Drivers coming from Raleigh will see a message board detailing a shorter detour that uses U.S. 17 to get to U.S. 158 to come to the Outer Banks for the north. It adds 30 miles to the trip.
Information from: The News & Observer, http://www.newsobserver.com