October 29, 2012
Preliminary Bonner Bridge Inspection Reveals No Storm Damage
by Catherine Kozak
as a precaution during Hurricane Sandy, the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge
has suffered no apparent damage to its structure, at least the part
that is visible above water.
“The visual inspection was
fine,” Jeff Odom, state Department of Transportation bridge inspection
supervisor said, after inspecting the Oregon Inlet bridge Monday
A piece of aluminum fabric had come off a portion of the concrete rail, he said, but that is only a cosmetic concern.
said that divers will use sonar to look for any scouring at the pilings
underneath the bridge as well as other potential structural issues as
soon as the weather allows.
But he said that type of inspection
is nothing unusual. In fact, he said it is routine to check for scour
--- sand around piles scooped out by currents --- under the Bonner
Bridge after any significant storm because of its location in
treacherous Oregon Inlet.
“That’s normal for that bridge,” Odom said. “It really hasn’t done anything abnormal at all.”
sand on the road on the south end of the bridge, he said, prevented him
from driving further south on N.C. 12 to inspect the temporary truss
bridge over the new inlet in Pea Island that was opened up last August
during Hurricane Irene.
A DOT road crew on Sunday had reported
seeing scouring around the south end of the bridge, he said, but the
extent of it could not be determined.
Odom said the truss
bridge’s structure is not the concern ---it’s built on concrete pilings
– as much as the risk of it washing away if it is undermined.
soon as a bulldozer can be driven over Bonner Bridge, Odom said, the
sand will be cleared off the road so he can get to the temporary bridge
to inspect it.
In a press release issued on Sunday, DOT
announced that the Bonner Bridge was closed that evening after DOT
inspectors determined that the bridge was “unsafe for traffic at this
But Odom said there was no specific problem that
prompted the closure, other than the reality of the storm’s destructive
potential and the inlet’s powerful currents.
“We want to make sure that everything is alright before we let anybody cross,” he said.
in 1963, the Bonner Bridge is about 20 years overdue for replacement. A
construction project for the new bridge began this month, and the DOT
says that regular inspections and repairs have kept the current bridge
Flooding and overwash from Sandy have forced closures on
N.C 12 from the Oregon Inlet bridge to Rodanthe. Parts of the highway
are also impassable north of Buxton, and in Frisco, Hatteras and
Ocracoke. Equipment and crews will assess the road damage after
the storm passes and the water recedes, the press release said.