More than three years and $22-million in the making, the Long Beach Road Extension project has reached another milestone with the opening of the road connecting the old and new sections of the highway.
Expanded lanes on the new bridge at Jump and Run Creek and the connector road just east of the new Food Lion opened Wednesday morning.
Although it’s shorter than a football field, the connector road at Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Realty is a significant part of the project and is expected to help relieve congestion along N.C. 211 at the intersections of old Long Beach Road and at the new Long Beach Road Extension (N.C. 133).
The connector gives drivers going between Southport and Oak Island an alternative route. It also makes it easier to access Surf Cinemas and nearby businesses, particularly when traveling from Oak Island.
Engineers with the N.C. Department of Transportation will continue tweaking the timing of traffic signals in the area, which are monitored with cameras and connected by fiber-optic cable.
David Byrd, a DOT inspector, said state officials insisted that contractor Balfour Beatty open the roadway by Memorial Day.
The newest section of roadway has opened but is not finished and is marked with paint. After crews apply the final layer of asphalt, the road will be permanently marked with highly reflective thermoplastic fog and center lines. The final layers of asphalt will be applied at night during the next month, Byrd said.
Except for a few turn lanes, the last layers of asphalt are finished along N.C. 211, Byrd said.
The project includes 2.2 miles of new roadway that ties Long Beach Road to N.C. 87/N.C. 133 between Southport and Boiling Spring Lakes. For drivers going between Oak Island and Boiling Spring Lakes, the new road eliminates a series of turns and traffic signals that are often congested even during the off-season.
Byrd said the contractor intends to finish paving, striping, landscaping and all other aspects of the job before Independence Day.