SURF CITY — The Town of Surf City will receive additional landscaping and hardscaping enhancements this fall with money set aside from N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The work is funded as a secondary element to the newly constructed bridge connecting Surf City to Topsail Island, which opened at the end of 2018 as part of the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).
NCDOT’s Roadside Aesthetics Policy allows towns to request up to 1% of STIP construction costs for additional beautification, according to NCDOT spokesperson Lauren Haviland. Natural Choice Contracting, LLC was awarded $405,426.13 on Dec. 15, 2021 to complete the work, scheduled to begin this fall.
“It’s another opportunity to beautify Surf City more than it already is and bring added elements to certain areas, such as Roland Avenue, that don’t have any landscaping per se,” town manager Kyle Breuer said.
The work will be done in two phases to install landscaping, plant beds and hardscapes throughout the roundabouts on both the mainland and island sides of the 65-foot Surf City bridge. Constructed for $53 million, the high-rise bridge replaced the town’s iconic swing bridge, constructed in 1955.
The first phase of the project will include installation of irrigation and hardscapes along Roland Avenue. It once connected the mainland with the swing bridge but the area has not received beautification since the landmark was dismantled in 2019.
Roland Avenue begins at Beach Bum Builders and ends at Soundside Park where it meets the Intracoastal Waterway. Textured stamped concrete will replace 1,150 square feet of the current sidewalks to create a boardwalk-like appearance, Breuer said.
NCDOT will install six dual trash and recycling receptacles along the roughly quarter-mile long route, as well as six stainless steel horseshoe bike racks and nine 48-inch concrete planters. It will also install 18, 6-foot benches, made of recycled materials, to match Surf City’s current seating offered through its Memorial Bench Program.
Once complete, Natural Choice Contracting will plant native beds in the roundabouts — prairie dropseed, ruby spice clethra, Henry’s garnet sweetspire, goldsturm black-eyed susan, Adam’s needle, Darlington live oaks and Eastern red cedars. Using indigenous flora will help with longevity of plantings, as well as cut down on maintenance, Breuer explained.
The town is responsible for the upkeep of landscaping once NCDOT completes its installation. Breuer said he’s been coordinating this project with the transportation department since he came on as town manager in January 2020 and is eager to see it come to fruition.
The Town of Surf City is responsible for all maintenance of the proposed work upon completion per an agreement with NCDOT, Haviland explained.
On the mainland, new signage, “Welcome to Surf City,” will be installed, with a lit 35-foot nautical-style flagpole greeting travelers on the other side of the bridge.
“NCDOT will work closely with the town over the next year-and-a-half timeline to make sure this project goes smoothly,” Breuer said.
He added crews will work within the confines of the rights-of-way, but not actually on the roads, and traffic impacts should be minimal.
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