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Inspection of Cape Fear Memorial Bridge Gets Up Close & Personal

cape_fear_memorial_bridge.jpg
The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge

The biannual inspection of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge has begun.  The North Carolina Department of Transportation will intermittently close lanes in both directions on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge for about a week and a half – ending Wednesday, February 17th.   The lane closures will cause increased congestion until next Wednesday, after the bridge inspection is completed. 

The drawbridge was built in 1968, so it’s nearly 50 years old.

“For us to get so many years out of this structure, it really is a testament, I think, to the effort that we have put in to doing the rehabs and to doing that ongoing maintenance every year.  Plus, it lifts up and down somewhere to the tune of about 25 to 30 times per month.  There’s a lot of moving parts that have to go into that.  So, this bridge gets a workout, no doubt.”

That was Trevor Carroll, a North Carolina Department of Transportation engineer.  He says the visual inspection looks for fatigue, cracks in any welds, and rust deposits.  It’s a pretty meticulous, detailed job:

“The federal requirements are that whomever is inspecting the bridge be able to touch every part of that bridge that they’re going to actually report on, so it takes quite a long time on such a long bridge, and it takes specific equipment.  The snooper machine – it’s actually a truck with a bucket on it that has a boom arm so the inspector can be inside of that bucket and actually go up underneath the bridge.”

Although there will not be any detours for the inspection work, motorists are encouraged to use alternate routes to avoid work crews and possible congestion.  The closures will occur between 9:30 AM and 4:30 PM.  Closures on Friday will end early -- at noon.  If drivers decide to use the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, NC DOT officials encourage drivers to use caution while traveling through the area.