Alligator River Bridge replacement project receives federal grant

Published 6:52 am Wednesday, January 4, 2023

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A replacement for the 60-year-old Lindsay C. Warren Bridge over the Alligator River between Tyrrell and Dare counties is a step closer to reality.

The proposed $268 million project will receive a $110 million federal Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a press release from Governor Roy Cooper’s office.

According to a press release from the office of U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, the “new bridge will be approximately 3.2 miles in length, with a vertical clearance of 65 feet to accommodate the navigational channel, two 12-foot lanes with 8-foot shoulders, and railings to separate bicycle traffic from vehicle traffic. The grant comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Package that Senator Tillis helped negotiate and pass into law.”

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“This bridge is a lifeline for the people of North Carolina both to and from the Barrier Islands. It is one of the few options residents and visitors have for accessing our far eastern counties and this bridge replacement will serve our state for decades to come,” said Cooper. “This is a great example of how President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law helps move along large projects that otherwise would be difficult to fund through traditional means.”

The current bridge is a two-lane swing-span bridge that was completed in 1962. More than 4,000 boats pass through the area every year, forcing vehicle traffic to stop while the swing-span opens and closes. Though maintained, the aging structure experiences occasional technical issues that can force motorists onto a 99-mile detour, such as the closure on December 24, 2022 that lasted several hours.

“This is a big boost for eastern North Carolina,” said Win Bridgers, Division One engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation. “A new fixed-span bridge over the Alligator River would aid everything from economic development to hurricane evacuation.”

The proposed replacement project would build a new two-lane fixed-span bridge just to the north of the old one, allowing both marine and vehicle traffic to pass unimpeded. NCDOT is planning for construction to begin no later than 2025.

“This grant is a big win for Dare and Tyrrell Counties and will ensure a safe and reliable bridge for generations to come,” said Tillis. “I am proud to have advocated for this funding, and thank local officials in both counties for their tireless advocacy for this grant as well. It’s clear that the bipartisan infrastructure law is already bringing major investments to our great state.”

NCDOT applied for the federal grant in May. It named its application STERLING (Strengthening Transportation Evacuation Resilient Lifeline by Improving the Network’s Grid) in honor of former Division 1 Engineer Sterling Baker, who passed away in April.

“Sterling dedicated his life to NCDOT and the northeastern North Carolina community. He would be proud the grant project for this bridge would highlight his work ingenuity and character he showed to get the job done for citizens,” said Baker’s wife, Elizabeth Mumm Baker. “It is really special, and his family will be honored that he will forever be part of eastern North Carolina. Thank you for this tribute honoring his legacy.”