• 79°

Lowered speed limit on Old Manns Harbor Bridge aims to protect purple martin flock

The annual effort to protect the Outer Banks purple martin flock began July 2 with the North Carolina Department of Transportation temporarily lowered dusk and dawn speed limits from 55 mph to 20 mph on the William B. Umstead Bridge. The Umstead Bridge in Dare County connects the north end of Roanoke Island to the mainland and is locally known as the Old Manns Harbor Bridge.

From July through August, the west end of the bridge on Croatan Sound becomes home to more than 100,000 purple martins as they prepare for their annual migration to Brazil. The birds roost under the bridge at night, departing at dawn to feed and returning at sunset. The flock is so large during its peak that it can be seen on radar.

Since 2007, NCDOT has partnered with the Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society to educate the public about the flock and protect the birds and motorists. NCDOT activates flashing lights and a 20 mph speed limit on the bridge at sunrise and sunset. The speed limit is monitored by law enforcement and allows motorists and birds safe passage across the sound. Since the lights and speed limits were installed, the Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society has seen a dramatic decline in bird deaths around the bridge.

As an alternative, motorists can use the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge, which is located further south on Roanoke Island and also connects to the mainland. Those wishing to view the flock safely can do so at Dare County’s multi-purpose pier at the west end of the Umstead Bridge.

For more information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.

READ ABOUT MORE NEWS AND EVENTS HERE.

RELATED:

Purple martins return to roost

News

Hatteras Island firefighters battle Wednesday evening blaze in Avon

Lifestyles

All kinds of fishing going on

Lifestyles

NC State Fair: Vaccinations encouraged, not required

Crime

North Carolina man found in street with gunshot wounds dies

Lifestyles

Outer Banks Community Foundation awards $29,000 in grants to five nonprofits

Business

Miles Daniels named to Currituck Chamber Board of Directors

News

Public comment open for project to repair the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, surrounding landscape

Crime

North Carolina man charged with child abuse after 4-year-old hospitalized with head injury

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing ammunition, firearms

Crime

State Court of Appeals panel upholds murder conviction of North Carolina man

News

Dare school board hears public comments questioning masks; Farrelly reports quarantine numbers are falling

Currituck

Currituck commissioners implore drivers to exercise caution in school zones

Crime

North Carolina man charged in fatal shooting of son-in-law

News

In Kill Devil Hills, $3 million street and drainage improvement project to begin in fall

News

Speed limits increased on NC 12; night driving in place at CHNS

Crime

Police: North Carolina man found shot to death in front yard

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for methamphetamine, firearm charges

Lifestyles

Dare CYP seeks community support for diaper drives

News

DMF schedules estuarine striped bass plan advisory committee workshop

News

North Carolina unemployment rate falls to 4.3% in August

Crime

North Carolina woman fatally shot, then hit by car

News

Two men killed, woman injured in head-on collision in North Carolina

News

Marc Basnight’s contributions to North Carolina to be recognized at special Senate floor meeting

News

North Carolina nurse wins $216,614 Cash 5 jackpot first time playing