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State officials want "concrete data" to replace Cape Fear Memorial Bridge

The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is running out of time, but the NCDOT is out of money. Now what?
Benjamin Schachtman
NHC Commissioner Dane Scalise brought the issue of replacing the bridge to the Governor's advisors this week.

New Hanover County Commissioner Dane Scalise went to Raleigh this week to discuss county issues with state legislators — including the aging Cape Fear Memorial Bridge.

The bridge, completed in 1969, urgently requires replacement. But that will be an expensive project —one that local lawmakers are trying to figure out how to tackle.

Commissioner Scalise brought the issue to advisors of Governor Roy Cooper while in Raleigh this week. He said it would be beneficial if the bridge was included in the state Transportation improvement plan.

“This is not a negotiable point, we need a new bridge,” he said. “We’re ultimately going to have to find a way to pay for it.”

According to Scalise, state officials said they will help, but they first want to see quote “concrete data” about options for replacing the bridge.

Local officials have gone through options before, including an unpopular proposal for a toll bridge. Scalise said he and other officials need to keep bringing the issue to the state.

Scalise also discussed the issue of securing funding for beach renourishment. The state created a mechanism for funding renourishment six years ago, but didn’t establish a source of recurring funding, he said.

According to Scalise, the current state budget — which is still in the works at the General Assembly — is allocating some money to that fund.

But beach communities need a stable funding source to properly plan, he said.

Grace is a multimedia journalist recently graduated from American University. She's attracted to issues of inequity and her reporting has spanned racial disparities in healthcare, immigration detention and college culture. In the past, she's investigated ICE detainee deaths at the Investigative Reporting Workshop, worked on an award-winning investigative podcast, and produced student-led video stories.