Monday, April 15, 2024

Cape Fear’s NCDOT rep announces retirement

Chad Kimes, NCDOT Division 3 engineer retiring in September, delivers an update on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge preservation project in January 2024. (Port City Daily/Brenna Flanagan)

WILMINGTON — North Carolina Department of Transportation Division 3 Engineer Chad Kimes, who has overseen highway projects in the Cape Fear region for more than a decade, will be retiring in September.

Kimes made the announcement at Wednesday’s meeting of the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, noting he had been planning his departure since last year.

Kimes has been an engineer with NCDOT for 35 years.

“It’s been an honor to serve the citizens of North Carolina and work on the transportation needs for our region,” Kimes said in a statement to Port City Daily. “Most importantly, I will miss the citizens and officials I have met and worked closely with over the years. Those relationships and our success are what has made my career at NCDOT so special.”

Currently, Kimes is overseeing the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge preservation project in what will be one of his last large-scale projects before retirement. Crews are working on replacing the 55-year-old bridge’s grid deck, done every 10 years, and stringers, which have never been replaced. After kicking off on Jan. 31, the work is on schedule to wrap at the end of May, with daily $6,000 charges incurring after June.

Kimes has also been involved in decision-making on the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge replacement.

Last month, WMPO board voted 8-5 to submit a tolled replacement option to the NCDOT to be scored alongside non-tolled option, the latter of which has not previously ranked high enough to receive state funding.

At that meeting, Kimes expressed his commitment to pursuing grant opportunities to keep a toll cost low or eliminate the need for it altogether.

“It is the intent of [doing] everything I can do not to go into an actual toll,” Kimes said. “But it’s critical to go after these grants to continue having that conversation about a potential toll.” 

NCDOT has submitted a request for a $242.15 million, or 50% match, to the federal Bridge Investment Program. Award announcements are expected in the next few weeks. Kimes also said the department is looking at four other grants to submit the project to.

During his time as Division 3 engineer, Kimes has also overseen the ongoing $429 million Hampstead Bypass and $137.5 million in College Road improvements, along with the $95.5 Military Cutoff Road Extension and the $217 million North Carolina Highway 211 widening.

NCDOT confirmed to PCD the search process for Kimes’ replacement is underway and it will make an announcement once that decision has been made.

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