Gov. Cooper, federal highways administrator to celebrate major grant Thursday at Alligator River Bridge

Gov. Cooper, federal highways administrator to celebrate major grant Thursday at Alligator River Bridge

March 7th, 2023

Governor Roy Cooper, Federal Highways Administrator Shailen Bhatt, along with state and local officials, will gather Thursday morning along the Alligator River to celebrate a major federal grant that will fund replacement of the primary link between the Outer Banks and the rest of North Carolina.

A $110 million federal Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation was awarded in January to help pay for a new span to carry U.S. 64 over the Alligator River between Dare and Tyrell counties.

The replacement for the Lindsay C. Warren Bridge is one of only nine projects nationwide to receive a Mega Grant, which is part of President Biden’s historic infrastructure law.

These grants fund projects too large or complex for traditional funding programs, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Thursday’s event is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. at Alligator River Marina on the Tyrrell County side of the bridge.

The current bridge is a two-lane swing-span bridge that was completed in 1962, and is notorious for causing extended delays for travelers.

Problems with the draw span continue to be an ongoing issue, including most recently on Christmas Eve, even after replacement of mechanical and electric systems during extensive renovations in the 2010s.

More than 4,000 boats pass through the bridge every year while traversing the Intracoastal Waterway, forcing vehicle traffic to stop while the swing-span opens and closes.

When the bridge malfunctions, drivers must either travel detours that are as much as 100 miles long, either along U.S. 264 and N.C. 94 through Hyde County or U.S. 158 and U.S. 17 through Elizabeth City.

Detours available around the Lindsey C. Warren Bridge (marked in red). [NCDOT image]

The proposed $268 million replacement project would build a new two-lane fixed-span bridge just to the north of the old one, with NCDOT planning for construction to begin no later than 2025.

Plans have been formulated for years to build a fixed-span bridge over the Alligator River, and shifted from a four-lane to two-lane span because of a lack of funding and environmental concerns over widening U.S. 64 between Manns Harbor and Columbia.

NCDOT applied for the federal grant in May 2022. It named its application STERLING (Strengthening Transportation Evacuation Resilient Lifeline by Improving the Network’s Grid) in memory of former Division 1 Engineer Sterling Baker, who passed away the previous 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.”

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