Economic Benefits of Transportation,  North Carolina,  Reduced Congestion

Making Multiple Improvements via a Single Bridge Project

The iconic yet structurally insufficient Surf City Bridge serving Topsail Island needed replacing. The design of the original 60-year-old bridge – a steel truss swing span – also required rethinking, as when it opened to allow marine vessels to pass, it created major traffic congestion throughout the area.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation improved safety and reduced delays for people driving on a heavily used bridge while offering more active transportation alternatives.

The agency built a 65-foot high bridge that eliminated the need for vessel openings, allowing safe and efficient passage of boats beneath it. Newly constructed roundabouts on both ends of the bridge also improved traffic flow and reduced congestion in and around the structure.

The new bridge also boasts more structural capacity – allowing for better access between the mainland and island in case of emergencies, hurricane evacuation, and other needs. Then the agency went a step farther – using the opportunity provided by the bridge replacement project to add in new bicycle and pedestrian walkways to the bridge itself as well as along the areas surrounding it. That allows residents and visitors to safely walk and bike along the bridge.

The North Carolina DOT also identified the need for more sidewalks and additional parking for local businesses, helping to boost the local economy. Those changes not only prioritized safety; they helped reshape the entire community, providing more transportation options and allowing for “freer” movement throughout the area.

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