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Columbia aldermen call for new Alligator River bridge

The Columbia Board of Aldermen last month asked the North Carolina Department of Transportation include the construction of a new bridge over Alligator River in the state’s 2023-32 State Transportation Improvement Plan (STIP).

The board pointed out that a new bridge could be constructed “independently of highway completion to the east and west of the bridge, using federal and state highway funds.”

Alligator River is a part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, and the money for building bridges over the waterway can come through other than normal highway construction funding sources.

The resolution is silent on the number of traffic lanes for the requested bridge, but much conversation among local political leaders over the past two or three years has centered on construction of a two-lane bridge first, then add a second two-lane structure when U.S. 64 between Columbia and Manns Harbor is widened to four lanes.

Neither the widening project nor a new bridge are included in the 2020-29 STIP.

However, the STIP does include a project to “modernize” U.S. 64 between Columbia and Manns Harbor in the 2027-29 fiscal years. Barry Hobbs, project engineer at NCDOT in Edenton, says that means adding a paved shoulder and other work to “bring the roadway up to standards.”