BRUNSWICK COUNTY (WWAY) — Residents attending Wednesday’s Brunswick County Commission meeting had plenty of questions about a proposed toll bridge to replace the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.
“You’ll have a road right next to a $300,000 house,” said one man worried the new location would bring down property values.
Another wanting to find a different way to fund construction saying, “I’m not real happy or keen on the idea of a toll bridge to get across the Cape Fear River.”
While the commissioners aren’t thrilled about the concept of paying a toll, they said with less money coming in from gas tax and soaring construction costs, the chances of building a replacement bridge within the next ten years using only NCDOT money is slim.
“The practical reality of North Carolina’s transportation funding is that if this bridge is going to get replaced in the next 20 years,” said Commissioner Frank Williams. “We at least have to explore that option or it probably won’t happen.”
Commissioners confirmed if a new bridge is built, a toll would likely need to be collected for up to 50 years to pay for it. Officials say they will continue to look for other means of funding.
“And if a federal infrastructure bill comes and we get beaucoup dollars,” said Vice Chair Mike Forte, “and Raleigh’s willing to give us some of it for a change, we could just say thanks, but no thanks, we found our money.”
Commissioners are looking at the toll option and four other options to replace the 51-year-old bridge which–if left alone–could cost far more to maintain and become less safe.
“For me, there’s a lot of questions that have to be answered before I can make a final decision on this,” Williams continued. “But I’m also not willing to rule it our based on a knee jerk reaction to a term that people might find unpopular.”
Commissioners clarified there would be no physical toll booth on the proposed toll bridge. They would instead use passed or bill directly to your address.