The North Carolina Department of Transportation has rescheduled inspection of the Trask Drawbridge to Tuesday, July 12 after Wrightsville Beach leaders raised concerns that the original schedule would cause disruptions too close to the July 4th holiday weekend. The DOT announced on Wednesday that the date would be moved to July 18, then announced Thursday morning that the date was set for July 12.
The DOT announced on Tuesday that the routine, biannual drawbridge inspection would occur between June 27-30, requiring crews intermittently close one of the drawbridge’s lanes in each direction between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Town staff, leaders and residents were perplexed and concerned by the DOT’s decision to perform a just days before the July 4 weekend, prompting calls from town leaders and an email from State Sen. Michael Lee, R-District 9.
“It’s just a very bad week to do an inspection. “It lacks forethought, in terms of encouraging more ease of traffic flow for tourists who are coming and spending, literally, hundreds of dollars a day to get here,” said Sue Bulluck, Wrightsville Beach Chamber of Commerce president before the change.
Following the announcement, Bulluck praised the quick response by the DOT.
“It will allow for the normal heavy traffic flow of the 4th of July week. The tourism revenue generates several taxes that assist in making the beaches a significant beneficial infrastructure for the state,” Bulluck said. “We in business along the coast consider our public access beaches as public infrastructure much like our great highway system maintained by our NCDOT.”
After the communication, the DOT rescheduled the inspection to July 12, beginning at dawn and halting the inspection if traffic becomes an issue. The crew will finish the inspections at dawn on July 13 if needed, a DOT official said in an email.
Bulluck said she remembered the DOT agreeing to attempt to schedule maintenance and inspections for the offseason after summer bridgework two years ago caused frustration. Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair said he hopes the inspection can be delayed until the winter. The DOT’s inspection announcement came as a surprise to him and other board members.
The DOT said in the email that it requested all future bridge inspection at beach locations occur between October and March.