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Carolina Beach Working To Ease Bridge Project Traffic Congestion; Delays Expected Over Easter Weekend

Crews working on the Snow's Cut Bridge Rehab project last week. Carolina Beach is requesting all four lanes be open during the busy summer months.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Carolina Beach officials are working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the County to plan for increased traffic over the upcoming Easter Holiday weekend and potential congestion resulting from a lane reduction on Snow's Cut Bridge due to the bridge rehabilitation project.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and  the contractor working on the Snow's Cut Bridge rehabilitation project met with Carolina Beach leaders Thursday February 28, and agreed to adjust the schedule to ensure all four lanes are open during the busy summer season.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth and Interim Town Manager Bruce Shell met with NCDOT and the contractor - American Bridge Company - and agreed the contractor will finish resurfacing the two southbound lanes on the bridge by May 15 and return to work on the northbound lanes in September.
The bridge will still be restricted to two lanes during the busy Easter Holiday Weekend.
Shuttleworth commented last month the contractor encountered issues during the project which caused a delay.
Traffic on the bridge on Carolina Beach Road/U.S. 421 over the Intracoastal Waterway was reduced from four to two lanes in October to allow crews to perform extensive repair work. The project to rehabilitate the 51-year-old bridge leading onto Pleasure Island began in September.
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said Tuesday March 26, "Hopefully it will be a busy weekend in Carolina Beach with beautiful weather. We are doing our best to ease traffic congestion by coordinating with the NCDOT and county Sheriff's Department."
Shuttleworth said Easter Weekend is an important time of the year for local businesses and while they are taking steps to ease congestion resulting from the bridge project, "The reality is they will probably see some congestion."
Shuttleworth said the contractor, "Put more people on the job and has extended working hours and it looks like they've picked up the pace."
He said the schedule is still on track to return the bridge to four lanes by early May and return to complete the work in the fall.
Shuttleworth said Police Chief Kurt Bartley has been working to address traffic in areas most affected by the project from the traffic light just north of the bridge down to the intersection of Dow Road and North Lake Park Blvd.
The Town previously worked with officials to address congestion issues in November during the annual Christmas Parade through downtown Carolina Beach. Each year following the parade traffic leaving the Island is congested. In that situation Chief Bartley called upon the Sheriff's Department to position deputies near the bridge to help keep traffic moving as fast as possible.
North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Conti announced in June, NCDOT awarded a $4.6 million contract to American Bridge Co. of Coraopolis, Pa. to preserve the bridge over Snows Cut on U.S. 421 in Carolina Beach. The bridge was built in the 1960's and needs attention to areas weathered by the elements over the decades.
This bridge is being rehabilitated using a new resurfacing technique called hydro-demolition.
During this resurfacing process, the deteriorated concrete on the bridge deck is removed in part using high-pressure water, and the bridge will be resurfaced using high-strength concrete. Crews began resurfacing the lanes on the west side of the bridge in late January causing traffic to slow at times. Workers were slowing or stopping vehicles at times to avoid spray from the project blowing onto passing vehicles.
Hydro-demolition is more precise than traditional pavement removal with a jackhammer, and it reduces the potential for damage to the bridge.   In addition, hydro-demolition is safer and faster than traditional demolition methods and minimizes the impact to traffic.
In addition to hydro-demolition, the contract also includes painting of structural steel and repairs to substructure concrete. The process is designed to protect the road surface and bridge structure from the elements.
Even though the contractor will delay work on the two northbound lanes until the fall, work will continue underneath the bridge.
Boats traveling on the Intracoastal Waterway are reminded that an emergency zone has been established by the U.S. Coast Guard during the project. Check with the Coast Guard when planning your trip.