WILMINGTON (WWAY) — It is estimated the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge only has about 20 years of life left.
With the Cape Fear Crossing project shelved for now… the state is looking at another solution.
Bridges do have a life span. N.C. DOT engineers say the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is safe to drive on, but it only has about 20 more years left before problems start.
Thousands of cars travel over the aging bridge every day. With its life-span decreasing, the DOT has hired a firm to work on a feasibility study.
It will look at possible bridge design and cost options. Engineer Chad Kimes says this will give them an idea on how to move forward.
Kimes expressed, “We would look at building a high rise versus a moveable type span and we will look at the different cost options just so we can get a idea of what kind of footprint, the impact it could have.”
He says it is better to build a new bridge rather than constantly paying millions of dollars to repair it.
“We have to start planning now or we’ll continue to do these $15 million projects to keep it operational, and that doesn’t include the yearly maintenance cost, which runs around a half a million dollars every year just for basic maintenance,” Kimes said.
We’re told the goal is to have a new bridge last as long as possible.
“We select the firm, we set the parameters of study, and then we’ll put it into action with dates,” Kimes said.
New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield believes a replacement bridge could impact some businesses and home owners nearby if engineers don’t plan properly.
“A lot of the road projects that I see happening in our community, where some folks are displaced and a disadvantage to them where economically, it’s not going to be feasible for them to go out and buy another home,” Barfield said.
DOT engineers say once the feasibility study is finished they will hold meetings where people can provide feedback on the options. The goal is to be finished with the study by next spring.