MAYOR: New Bridge Delayed Again

By: Dave Jordan / Ken Heineck
By: Dave Jordan / Ken Heineck

New Bern officials say that controversial new bridge over the Trent River has been delayed yet again.

Mayor Lee Bettis tells WITN News there is no new date for when the $41-million replacement span will open for traffic. When contacted, the DOT engineer for the project says the ribbon cutting for the span is still set for next Friday.

DOT division engineer Neil Lassiter says weather has again delayed some final work, such as painting, that the contractor must finish. He hopes they can open the span sometime during the first week of March.

The latest conflict comes a day after New Bern aldermen decided to keep in place an agreement that the city would maintain the bridge.

Originally the bridge was supposed to open last November.

Previous Story

In a nearly unanimous vote, New Bern city leaders decided to accept an agreement entered into by the previous board of Alderman and the Department of Transportation.

The agreement says New Bern must pay to maintain and operate the new double bascule drawbridge slated to open February 26th. The previous board by a 4 to 2 vote agreed to foot the bill for maintenance and operating costs, which could cost taxpayers about $160,000 a year. The state has agreed to pay 80% of any major repairs. Alderman Dana Outlaw was the only one who voted against the agreement, he says it's because he doesn't believe the fed has the money.

Original Story

The controversy over who should pay to operate New Bern's new drawbridge is boiling over.

In a letter by NC Transportation Secretary Eugene Conti, the state says it will not proceed with a ribbon cutting ceremony and celebration when the bridge opens February 26th unless aldermen accept the current agreement, which leaves New Bern footing the bill of almost $160,000 a year for bridge operations.

The old board entered into the agreement in order to get both Broad Street, a main thoroughfare, and the bridge completed. The DOT originally only wanted to refurbish the bridge. Mayor Lee Bettis says the city is about 90 million dollars in debt and a new bridge will impose higher taxes and rate hikes. "The past board has left us with a lot of problems, that's why they were voted out. They've left us with a lot of problems done in back rooms, deals that don't make sense, deals for 41 million dollar bridges that tiny towns like New Bern don't have the tax base to support."

The board of aldermen will vote Tuesday night on whether to accept the agreement. The state responded to Bettis' comments and say they simply have a contract in place and ask that it be upheld.

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  • by EvenMoreLocal on Feb 20, 2010 at 06:37 PM
    Ya'll is just darn crazy. Us southerners love us some afro-americans. and so what we can't go downtown no more cause they everywhere and makin' crime. i like going down broad street and bein' scared. makes me feel like i'm home. yeah we could move 'em out but that aint southern hospitality. instead we give 'em riverfront property for free and pay for their food, welcome south brothers. afro-americans are special people and we down south here love 'em. we love driving down broad street and seeing empty buildings and run down homes, makes us feel like we're home. you northerners need to get a clue and quit with all your crazy northern talk tryin to fix our town. when i grew up in trent court we used to live section 8 too, thats a good thing. and this bridge, i mean who cares if the downtown businesses struggle, all you northerners own 'em anyhow, hopefully they all go outta business then all us real folk can get it ya'll need to go back north where you have your fancy talk.
  • by tnt on Feb 18, 2010 at 06:11 PM
    Great are talking out you butt. No one said they HATED anyone. You are the only one using those words. Just to set you straight, I have lived around blacks ALL my life. Never went to a private school, or had name brand clothes. Got my clothes for a second hand store down on the water front by the old Pepsi plant. Opps, sorry you dont known where that is. Walked to school from Trent Court to Central School. Opps you dont know where that is either. Guess you gathered I grew up POOR. Where do you think ALL poor people lived and shopped. All races! The south is not as racist as you may think. Even been to Alabama Reds!! and Ms. Claireeses' Ask around and find out where and what that was. LOL Why don't you read Locals' post one more time, and think about what he wrote. Maybe if you apply just a tad of effort you may understand what we are trying to say. If not......whatever
  • by Anonymous on Feb 18, 2010 at 10:21 AM
    Local, I won't leave my racist remarks at the door. Look at the remarks that are being targeted toward people from the north.You love this town, so do alot of other people, I bet you attend church every Sunday, make statements such as we are all God's people. Right! So what are we yankees? What culture is lost? The raising of the old dixie flag? Deer hunting? Shag dancing? It seems you have some very deep rooted hatred for northerns. Check your bible I believe there is no page in the book that say hate your fellow man. Peace and Love to you.
  • by Citizen Location: New Bern on Feb 17, 2010 at 07:57 PM
    CPA, they did. Brand new board was elected last Fall. State paid for 41 million dollar bridge. 2 million dollars would have given old bridge a life of 10 years. That was it. 10 years would be up 6 years from now. Then what? Do the math, we needed a new bridge. Old board made a deal 3-4 years ago, most of the town supports(everybody but the new mayor). They were defeated over other stuff. Frustrated over the delays but weather has to cooperate and it hasn't.
  • by TNT on Feb 17, 2010 at 01:54 PM
    VERY well said.......local. And I thank you.
  • by Local Location: New Bern on Feb 17, 2010 at 01:04 PM
    Great Northern, you just dont get it and thats okay because if I were from another area (north/south) I probably wouldn't get it either, no harm done. But to sit here and say that we as a community don't hold African-Americans as equals is plain wrong and misleading my friend. It is a FACT that the South is far less segregated and more integrated than the North, so please leave those racist comments at the door, thank you. What you don't get G N, it's not that we don't want you here its the fact that simply having the "Northern" money here does lead to locals being misplaced which ultimately leads to loss of culture and a basic way of life for us, can this be avoided? I don't think it can, its just the way it is. I love this town and when I went off to college and came back 8 years later I myslef couldn't believe what I saw, some good and some bad. Hometown people is what made this place desireable to live not Northerners or Halfbackers.
  • by CPA on Feb 17, 2010 at 01:04 PM
    Let me see the council voted to build a 41mil bridge than to rebuild the old one fot 2 mil. They need to clean house. Politics like normal.
  • by bridgebuildercowboy Location: grimesland on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:50 PM
    Let's cut to the chase. Neither the state of NC nor the US Govt has any money. State probably can't get $$ from the feds and state surely does not have it. So, again it is all about money. State can't pay the contractors for either the New Bern Bridge or the Washington bridge until July 1 when the new fiscal year starts.
  • by Tod Location: 7 springs on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:45 PM
    Bridges are not structures to help people cross rivers, they are places for me to catch trout, flounder , stripers, drum etc. New Bern is a great place to take a kid fishing, so lets all do so. Except the Yanks, you guys go home leave your daughters here
  • by a Location: gville on Feb 17, 2010 at 12:05 PM
    Bet this has quite a few people ticked off. So the first week of march it will open or wait get delayed again? hmmmmm. when will it open. Lets start a bridge lottery

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