WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The outrage continues after a failure to notify the public about closing the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge this weekend led to a Cape Fear “Carmageddon.” Today the Department of Transportation admitted to a major breakdown of communication.
Saturday’s traffic jam in downtown Wilmington and beyond left the tempers of many drivers boiling over. However with many more closures planned in the coming weeks the DOT says that drivers will just have to tap their brakes.
“There’s no blame to be placed,” NCDOT Construction Engineer Jackson Provost said. “I think the biggest thing is that the department, we had a lot of traffic to deal with, and we’re just going to have to get the word out to the public to try and avoid this area.”
When the DOT closed the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge it says it had a plan to re-route traffic to Shipyard Blvd. to College Road to MLK Parkway and to the Isabel Holmes Bridge.
“I think the biggest thing is there is just too much traffic congestion on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and trying to put it on the Isabel Holmes Bridge is over capacity,” Provost said. “It’s a situation that we definitely don’t want to have, but we don’t have any choice here in this matter.”
Bottlenecks along 3rd Street and on US 421 and US 74/76 quickly turned roads into parking lots; a situation the DOT says it can only live and learn from.
“We realized from this weekend that there are little bottlenecks or places where the traffic is choked down,” DOT Resident Engineer Wayne Currie said. “We’re going to look at it and see what we can do to try and get two lanes of traffic flowing throughout this detour.”
While more work is planned, engineers say this exposed an even larger need.
“Another bridge would be great, but in the meantime we’ve got two bridges, and we’re trying to keep them operational and keep traffic flowing also,” Currie said.
The bridge will be closed at overnight tonight, Tuesday and Wednesday and overnight Oct. 10 and 11. to prepare for work that will be done from 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12 through 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 15, when the bridge will be closed all weekend.
The DOT says a signed detour will direct motorists entering or leaving Wilmington on US 17 Business, US 76 East or US 421 South to use Isabel Holmes Bridge while the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is closed.