Alligator River Bridge Reopening Important for Area

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The reopening of the Alligator Bridge on April 14 marked a significant moment for Tyrrell County and the surrounding region.

Many local businesses and citizens would have been severely affected by the bridge being closed for a long period of time.

The Town of Columbia discussed the bridge reopening at their May 6 meeting.

Columbia Town Manager Rhett White mentioned that the matter came up at the Southern Albemarle Association meeting on April 18 at the Vernon James Research and Extension Center in Plymouth.

The Southern Albemarle Association is comprised of Beaufort, Hyde, Martin, Tyrrell, and Washington Counties.

The organization was established in 1935 for the purpose of making the area a safe place to travel, work, and live through promoting better roads, bridges, waterways, and airports.

“It was pointed out that this was one of those times that the North Carolina Department of Transportation was right. We may have disagreed with their timing and when they did it and all of those things. But they were able to get the bridge done within that two week period of time,” said White.

White mentioned that the NC DOT frequently does not get thanked when they do something well.

“That was the impetus for thinking about a letter from the Board. This Board was the board that raised the questions of them in the beginning. That is where this comes from,” said White.

Columbia Town Alderman Sandra Owens mentioned that the issues connected to the bridge closing still remain:

“I think a thank you letter would be nice. But I still have the buts at the end of it. But what is going to happen if the bridge does go out. What if there are no other alternatives of getting across at that river?”

The Board of Aldermen approved a motion authoring White to draft a letter of thanks addressed to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for their work on the Alligator River Bridge.

Businesses in Columbia had to adapt while the Alligator River Bridge was closed.

Angela Brickhouse, Administrator at Whitecap Supply Company, mentioned that the bridge closing meant employees had to work extra hours.
“Whitecap paid 60 hours of overtime in that period due to drivers going three hours out of their way to perform regular routes. We spent time contacting all the customers, explaining the plan and altering routes that did not show up as overtime, since our managers were working extra hours to ensure our customers’ needs were met,” said Brickhouse.

Brickhouse mentioned that the company discussed changes with employees, and several who live in Dare County chose to take vacation time, rather than struggle with the long commute.

“When we could make a difference for the employees, we did. We housed a Production Supervisor at the Brick House Inn here in Columbia, to have him available the first week,” said Brickhouse.

Some of company’s staff could leave Columbia, service customers in Dare County, and go home the northern route through Currituck County, since they live in the Elizabeth City area.

“This made best use of their time, and served our customers efficiently.  We left vans or trucks in Dare County for pickup by employees to avoid the bridge detour, ready for the next day’s work,” said Brickhouse.