BEAUFORT -

A $66 million bridge project connecting Radio Island and the Town of Beaufort will begin shortly according to a spokesperson with NCDOT.

In February, a contract to build the bridge was awarded to Conti Enterprises, Inc. of Edison, N.J. The bridge will replace the Grayden Paul draw bridge, but will connect to Beaufort in an area not feeding directly into downtown. The 4 lane, 65 feet tall bridge will connect to West Beaufort Rd.

The NCDOT plan is intended to allow traffic to flow around the city and for emergency vehicles to have access to DownEast Carteret County without the chance of running into a raised draw bridge.

The project is expected to take just under 5 years to finish with completion expected by January of 2019.

Some business owners are excited for the bridge replacement.

"It'll be a tremendous long term economic benefit I think to Morehead [City], Beaufort and surrounding counties and communities," said Steve Tulevech. Tulevech owns the Town Creek Marina, which is on West Beaufort Rd. "With this being a DOT project, if we're going to get some state money thrown our way, I think it's good we are taking advantage of it."