SURF CITY, PENDER COUNTY -

A newer, larger bridge could be coming to Topsail Island in Pender County.
But it would mean demolishing the current iconic bridge on route 50 over the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway that has been in place since the 1950s.

"Our visitors, some of them have been coming here for 25, 30, 40 years and they hate to see it go because it signifies the beginning of their vacation," said Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce Exec. Dir. Tammy Proctor.

When there's boating traffic, traffic on the bridge stops to let it through.

During the busy summer months, this can happen every hour on the hour, causing big delays.

"We're all used to waiting for the bridge to close," said The Crab Pot owner Peter Outlaw.

Outlaw serves crab and shrimp at the base of the bridge.

He’s seen first-hand how problematic delayed traffic can be.

“Sometimes it's only a few minutes and sometimes it's backed up in every direction but it is a problem," said Outlaw.

The new high-level fixed bridge would cost $57 million dollars and be built adjacent to the old one.

The high rise bridge would alleviate the delays, but some locals are still sad that the current bridge may go.

“"I like the idea of having a new bridge but we are attached to the swing bridge and the fact that it's unique. It's iconic, but we also understand the necessity of having a more dependable traffic pattern to the island," said Proctor.

If approved by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Construction would begin in 2017.

A formal design public hearing is scheduled for July 29th at the Topsail Island Moose Lodge in Holly Ridge at 7 o'clock.