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For the next six months, traffic along N.C. 179 between Shallotte and Ocean Isle Beach will be rerouted to a detour as new bridge work gets under way.
A section of the heavily traveled route was shut down Monday by the North Carolina Department of Transportation to make way for bridge replacement and roadwork between Brookhollow Drive and Jennies Branch Baptist Church.
Signs on either side of the bridge are directing motorists to a detour onto Hale Swamp Road.
NCDOT project engineer David Candela said the estimated $2 million project calls for replacement of the 40-year-old, two-lane bridge near Brick Landing Golf Course that has been deemed structurally deficient.
The new bridge will be longer than the existing one, he said. As the bridge is extended, work also calls for removal of a causeway that will be more accommodating to the marshy wetlands area the bridge traverses, Candela said.
The overall project covers about a two-tenths-mile-long area.
Residents who live in the area, such as those at Bricklanding Plantation, will still have access to their homes but will have to use Hale Swamp Road instead of the bridge.
“We’re talking a few extra minutes,” Candela said of the alternate route onto Hale Swamp Road. “Not miles and miles.”
Hale Swamp Road, in fact, has proven to be an easier route between Shallotte and Ocean Isle Beach, Candela said.
To make way for rerouted traffic, NCDOT has made improvements to Hale Swamp Road that included adding a new shoulder.
NCDOT has contracted with T.A. Loving Co. of Swansboro for construction of the bridge project.
The biggest challenge this week, company worker Donnell “Red” Thompson said, would be getting motorists acclimated to taking the alternate route.
He and employees with another subcontractor, Stay Alert of Kernersville, were busy Monday preparing barricades and signs alerting drivers to the closure and rerouting of traffic.
Candela said the completion date for the project is May 15.