After 60 remarkable years, the Surf City Swing Bridge has been retired. Long overdue for replacement, builders began in September of 2016 and finished 10 months ahead of schedule. On December 18th, 2018, the new Surf City bridge opened to the public with overall positive reviews.
“The new bridge has a 65-foot vertical clearance that will not need to open for vessels in the waterway, eliminating vehicle and vessel traffic delays from the bridge opening and closing,” the NCDOT explained.
We had a chance to sit down with Assistant Resident Engineer on the project, Ben Meyer to discuss the project scope as well as additional measures and finishing touches still to be completed. One of the most important pieces of advice Mr. Meyer touched on for vacationers is to be cognizant that your phone or personal GPS devices may not have updated the new bridge traffic routes. We want to avoid anything like this from happening!
The addition of the new bridge includes new traffic patterns as well. Drivers no longer will be able to utilize Topsail Dr (labeled Roland Ave on graphic above) land side to cross onto the island. A round about has been placed at both ends of the new bridge to ensure a continuous flow of traffic.
Mr. Meyer mentioned some of the immediate installations will be signage and symbols placed along the bridge way to remind oncoming traffic of the impending roundabout and traffic patterns.
With two land roundabouts, it is quite important to know the right of ways for not only automobiles but for cyclists and pedestrians as well. One of the amazing aspects of this new bridge is the multi-use access bridge–welcoming to pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists alike! Expect many vacationers to incorporate walking across the new bridge into their new morning workout routine.
As you make your way over the new bridge, a second roundabout will direct you to the north and south end of the island.
Don’t fret. This new look can be daunting for those unfamiliar, as we all have done a complete 360° in search of the correct road to turn off.
It is important to understand the rules of a roundabout and to be cautious of those adjusting to the new patterns. Included below, is the official brochure from the North Carolina Department of Transportation detailing the correct way to yield and proceed through a roundabout.
New Roland Ave Pattern
As we all adjust to these new roundabouts, we wanted to share how to access Roland Ave once on the island. As many of you know, Roland Ave was THE main road with many of the island’s favorite restaurants and shops.
If you are entering the island from the bridge and plan on dining or shopping on Roland Ave., you will want to be aware that upon exiting the roundabout, the road splits (indicated in red box) fairly quickly. Make sure you are in that left turning lane to proceed down Roland Ave. Currently, there are barriers with plans to resurface the street however, it is important to note that any construction will not inhibit any access to businesses along the drive. There are also talks of placing public parking all along the park side (island side) of Roland Ave.
Tip: You cannot make a left onto hwy 210 from Roland Ave. You will need to make a right and enter the roundabout to get back onto hwy 210.
Roland Ave & N Topsail Dr Intersection
Mr. Meyer also discussed the future of the stoplight at the intersection of Roland & N Topsail Dr within Surf City. The plan is to remove the stoplight completely as the new bridge traffic pattern will ease flow of this intersection. However, the light will remain in place until officials address the right of way pattern.
Below is a great animation of the Surf City Bridge roundabout and how to proceed. Thanks to the North Carolina Department of Transportation and special thanks to Ben Meyer, for helping us gather these materials.