COLUMBIA, N.C. — A two-lane bridge that links central North Carolina to the Outer Banks will not be replaced and instead will get a $16.7 million upgrade.

Transportation Department spokesman Tim Hass told The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk that a $400 million project to replace the 57-year-old Alligator River bridge and widen U.S. Highway 64 is on hold.

The 27 miles from Columbia to Manns Harbor, including the 3-mile-long bridge, are the last two-lane sections of U.S. 64 between Raleigh and the Outer Banks.

The work by Flatiron Constructors of Morrisville will begin next month and finish by September 2019, Hass said.

The improvements will include joint replacements, repairs to the swing span and a new coating on the surface to stop water from seeping into the support structures, he said.

Although one of the bridge’s two lanes may be closed at various times, that won’t happen on weekends from May through September, Hass said. Both lanes will be closed for two different weeks between January and mid-March 2018. Traffic will be diverted onto U.S. 264.

The bridge, which about 4,000 vehicles a day cross during the summer, is structurally deficient but considered safe for traffic, Hass said.

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