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Why do they allow the bridges to be raised during rush hour?

Brian Freskos
Eagle and bridge

The tall ship U.S.C.G. Eagle glides under the raised Cape Fear Memorial Bridge in this 2003 StarNews file photo.

The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and the Isabel Holmes Bridge conform to different federal regulations that dictate when the bridges must open, said Amanda Glynn, division bridge program manager for the N.C. Department of Transportation‘s Wilmington office.

The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge must open on demand for all vessels—commercial, government and personal—on every day of the year except for two: the second Saturday in July and the second Sunday in November.

That is because special events are held on those days that require the bridges to be closed. Those events are the Wilmington Family YMCA Tri-Span race in July and the Battleship Half Marathon in November. Glynn said there is also an effort afoot to get the Beach2Battleship Iron Distance Triathlon added to that list of special events where the bridge does not open.

While the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge opens on demand for all vessels, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a temporary deviation from the regulation governing the bridge’s operation to allow for the cleaning and painting of the structure, according to the Federal Register. The deviation means that vessels must give a three-hour notice to the bridge tender to get an opening. The deviation remains in effect through July 30, 2011. The notice gives the contractor time to clear his employees and equipment before the bridge opens.

The Isabel Holmes Bridge is a little different. Like the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, it does not open on those two days of special events and it opens on demand for government and commercial vessels 24 hours a day

However, the bridge is closed to pleasure craft from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., except at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the draw will open for all waiting vessels. Between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m., the bridge opens on demand for all vessels, Glynn said.

The two bridges conform to the U.S. Coast Guard Code of Federal Regulations, Glynn said.

User-contributed question by:
Richard Keyes

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6 Responses to “ Why do they allow the bridges to be raised during rush hour?”

  1. On May 12, 2011 at 12:47 pm Beverly wrote:

    As with most regulations, there is probably some “loop hole” to get that changed considering that those 2 bridges are the ONLY way into and out of Wilmington in that direction. Some one in the Wilmington government should look into it further. They obviously haven’t got “caught” during rush hour letting a ship pass!!

  2. On May 12, 2011 at 2:00 pm Lman wrote:

    That regulation doesn’t make any sense. The amount of time and money wasted when the bridge has to open during rush hour for one ship to pass is rediculous. We already have enough traffic problems on that side of town… raising the bridges during rush hour greatly exacerbates the problem. Delay one ship for two hours or delay 30,000 people for two hours? seems like a no-brainer.

  3. On May 12, 2011 at 6:14 pm Rob wrote:

    Like Charleston and Savannah, you shouldn’t have a bridge that has to open and close.

  4. On June 29, 2011 at 4:02 am Ron wrote:

    It’s not as simple as “delay one ship for two hours.” Some of the ships that come up the river are carrying enough cargo that they need to come in at high tide, and would have to wait 12 hours for the next high tide if the bridge can’t be opened during rush hour. Or make the trip half-empty.

  5. On January 11, 2013 at 12:59 am Really wrote:

    Too funny Lman. Yea, just stop a ship in the Cape Fear river and wait until you cross the bridge. They can just idle in place there in the river since it isn’t effected by tides or current. Not.
    Car traffic is the lowest priority in the transportation scheme. Cars must stop for trains, trains using draw bridges (like the one North on the Isabel Holmes bridge) must stop for river traffic.

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