After rough start, adjustment process going good for new Beaufort bridge
BEAUFORT, Carteret County —
The new Gallants Channel Bridge in Beaufort had a less than stellar debut.
There were delays in its opening due to construction. Then, once it opened a little more than two weeks ago, bottle-necked traffic led to some very unhappy drivers.
Now ... no back-ups. Traffic is flowing smoothly and there seems to be a lot more happy faces when you ask them about the new bridge. It's a good sign for anyone driving through Beaufort.
But there's still work to be done.
"My husband and I live right off 101 so there's a lot of times we have to kind of finagle our way through traffic to get into our lane," said Kristi Gray, who owns Time in a Bottle and lives in Beaufort, right in the middle of the most congested area.
Gray had a few concerns before the bridge opened for her business. Her biggest was the unfinished Turner Street Bridge, making it tough to get downtown. After what she said was a strong last weekend, especially for the offseason, some of her concerns have gone away.
"I think people are happy with the traffic coming into Beaufort this way. As long as we have that access to downtown it makes it a lot smoother for a lot of people," Gray said.
The move to ease some of those issues, reopening the eastbound lane on the Grayden Paul Drawbridge is one of this, has been met with approval by Beaufort Mayor Everette "Rett" Newton.
"There's a significant difference between today and two weeks ago. It's relieved quite a bit of the congestion so we really appreciate the work with NCDOT to make some of these improvements," Newton said.
Newton said the next step is getting the Turner Street Bridge open, which will allow for even easier access to downtown Beaufort from the Gallants Channel Bridge. The NCDOT expects that bridge to be open on April 1.