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Why is the Brunswick River bridge raised in the U.S. 17/74/76 widening project?

Ken Little
Traffic backs up along U.S. 74/76 near the Brunswick River Bridge on Jan. 23. StarNews photo by Ken Blevins.

Traffic backs up along U.S. 17/74/76 near the Brunswick River Bridge. StarNews file photo

Q. Concerning the widening project on U.S. 17/74/76 in Brunswick County, who determined the bridge over the Brunswick River should be raised, the reasoning behind this decision and what the coast is for this decision?

A. Late in the design phase, the town of Leland asked that the bridge be raised to 12 feet above Mean High Tide to safely allow recreational boat traffic to travel underneath.

“The thought was to then include this section into the ‘Blueways’ water trail system,” said D. Chad Kimes, N.C. Department of Transportation Division 3 construction engineer.

The DOT Design section reviewed the impacts to traffic and adjacent wetlands and decided the requested 12-foot height could not be accomplished, Kimes said.

“A design compromise was to raise the bridge to 8 feet above mean high tide to at least allow some recreational boats to have access other than the existing canoes and kayaks which could only get through at the existing clearance,” he said.

Since the change was done during the design, “additional costs are not known but were minimal in order to accomplish this,” Kimes said.

The project, which will widen U.S. 17/74/76 between Wilmington and Leland from four to six lanes, was projected in early 2014 to be finished by winter 2016.

The scope of the project includes replacement of the bridges over the Brunswick River, in addition to replacing one bridge over Alligator River and widening another.

The contract price for all phases of the project was quoted at roughly $55.6 million in early 2014.


Was sea level rise considered in designing the causeway project?

Will a second merge lane be added from U.S. 421 to the causeway?



User-contributed question by:
Perry Boone

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