WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two weekends ago, some drivers waited as long as four hours to get to Wilmington, even running out of gas and having to hike down the highway. That is what was coined “Carmageddon” when the NCDOT shut down the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge without warning. However, this weekend was a different story. Thanks to a few changes by the NCDOT, this time around was pretty much smooth sailing for drivers on both sides of the river.
“I’d say the lesson was really to anticipate the types of volumes that we had,” NCDOT engineer Ben Hughes said. “We just didn’t think we would have the types of volumes we had two weeks ago.”
Signs were up the week before this closure warning drivers.
“It was at least around Tuesday that the DOT was letting you know three days in advance that the bridge would be shut down,” said Demetrius Johnson, a truck driver who lives in Leland.
Though the wording on the signs was a little deceiving at first, leading folks to think the bridge would be open during daytime hours, the DOT had its contractor changed them to make more sense. And this time, two lanes instead of one were used to reroute traffic between US 17/74/76 and US 421.
“We only had one lane that we merged traffic down to (last time),” Hughes said. “So both of those merges, we took those out and went with two lanes in both directions. We also had additional traffic control and had some plans redesigned. But this weekend, it has made a big difference.”
“To me the DOT did a very good job by rerouting it,” Ray Yoman of Brunswick County said. “A very good job.”
Hughes says incident management assistance patrols, or IMAP drivers, came down from Charlotte to help drivers that needed assistance. He says there were quite a few fender benders.
The bridge will reopen Monday at 5 a.m.