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At what wind speeds do local bridges close?

Si Cantwell

The N.C. Department of Transportation closes bridges to boats and ships when winds reach certain levels, but not to vehicular traffic.

But local law enforcement agencies can close bridges to cars and trucks.

The only time N.C. DOT closes a bridge to vehicles would be after a storm, if the bridge sustained damage, said Amanda Glynn, division bridge program manager.

That goes for big high-rise bridges and little bridges over creeks.

If local law enforcement officials close a bridge, she said, they generally station police cars on either side of it.

If N.C. DOT closes a bridge because of damage, she said, it uses warning signs – “Bridge closed ahead” – and barricades.

The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge are closed to marine vessels when sustained winds reach 40 mph, or if there is an accident on the bridge or damage to the bridge.

The Isabel Holmes Bridge and the Surf City bridge close to marine vessels at 30 mph sustained winds.

The high-rise bridges at Sunset Beach, Holden Beach, Oak Island, Carolina Beach and North Topsail Beach do not close to marine traffic.

Local law enforcement has the right to close bridges to vehicular traffic.

Carolina Beach Beach Police announced Aug. 25, 2011, on Facebook that the Snow’s Cut bridge bridge would be closed if sustained winds reach 45 mph during Hurricane Irene.

Sunset Beach Police would close its high-rise bridge if sustained winds reach 45 to 50 mph.

In Surf City and Wrightsville Beach, the bridges would only close if there’s a mandatory evacuation, said police officials in those towns. And in Surf City, Deputy Police Chief Ron Shanahan said, some residents still might be allowed to cross the bridge to make short trips to their residences, perhaps to take in lawn furniture.

Lucy Crockett, a Wilmington Police Department spokeswoman, said she didn’t believe Wilmington Police would close the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to vehicles.

Police officials in Holden Beach could not immediately be reached.

User-contributed question by:
Shelia Boyd

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One Response to “ At what wind speeds do local bridges close?”

  1. On August 26, 2011 at 9:54 am Si Cantwell wrote:

    UPDATE: Sunset Beach Police says it would close its high-rise bridge to vehicular traffic if sustained winds reach 45 to 50 mph.

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