The Surf City Swing Bridge opened in November of 1955 replacing a pontoon bridge from the ’40s. This Swing Bridge made it easier for the land on the Island to be developed. Many years later, a high-rise bridge was created on the North End of Topsail (Sneads Ferry Bridge) making it even more convenient to access the 26 miles on the island. Still, many locals and long-time visitors preferred the Swing Bridge in Surf City.
The bridge had a small town feel that the other bridge could not replace. For me and many others, the bridge was a landmark that I was at the beach. My son and I loved to turn off the air conditioning, roll down the windows to smell the ocean air and hear that distinct sound of going over the bridge. Some days, I didn’t time it right and we would have to wait for the bridge to swing.
It was awesome if you were the first car in line to await the boats being paraded in front of you, with the bonus of watching the bridge swing into action with the siren letting you know the show was beginning. Children loved to see that bridge turn. My father and I would always share with parents of young children that we were photographing to go check out the Swing Bridge. It was something they would enjoy and show times were on the hour with Soundside Park being the perfect place to watch from. This iconic Bridge closed on December 4, 2018.
A new Bridge has taken its place. The Surf City High-Rise Bridge had its Grand Opening yesterday with the closing of the Swing Bridge. Many people came out to say Good Bye to the old bridge and a Hello to the new one. Lots of people took one last drive, the last walk across and the last photo saying goodbye. Some folks walked the entire loop crossing both bridges. One couple even got married on the old bridge before it closed. On the new bridge an Opening Ceremony with Mike Alford from the NC Board of Transportation, Teresa Batts a Council Woman of the Town of Surf City, Bobby Lewis from the NC Department of Transportation, and Douglas Medlin the Mayor of Surf City. Teresa Batts reminded us that the Swing Bridge had some very special people that are overlooked by many that drove or walked across the bridge. The bridge operators, the ones that were always there watching over all that passed the bridge. Lynn Farrell a VIP at the ribbon cutting was one of those bridge tenders. She was one of those special people for 23 years, which I’m sure many a boat captain remembers.
The Surf City’s newest bridge cost $53 million to build and opened 285 days ahead of schedule. The bridge is 65 feet high so all boats and ships will be able to pass under it while vehicles are traveling over it. This new bridge also has a pedestrian walkway with a concrete wall keeping everyone safe. The bridge has a great view from the top, you can see for miles.
I know some Topsail High School Cross Country runners that will use the incline of the high rise bridge for training purposes, my son being one of them. Go, Pirates! Cyclists are also enjoying the bridge; the pedestrian area is large enough for them to ride too. Visitors to the Topsail Island area will no longer have to wait in a long line for the bridge to turn back in position so they can pass. This should help tremendously with traffic in the summer months.
I will miss driving over the old Surf City Bridge but I welcome the new photography opportunities with the new bridge. Now we can also photograph families up on the bridge with Surf City and the ocean as the background.