December 10, 2013

DOT official says Bonner Bridge
could open by the weekend

By IRENE NOLAN



Jerry Jennings, the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s First District engineer, said tonight at a community meeting in Buxton that the Bonner Bridge could open by this weekend or the first of next week.

At the meeting at Cape Hatteras Secondary School auditorium, which was attended by a standing-room only crowd, Jennings was reluctant to give a best-case and worst-case scenario on how long the bridge will be closed for safety reasons.

State officials, in general, have not publicly announced those details since the bridge closed on Tuesday, Dec. 3, saying only that they needed more information.

But tonight after giving an upbeat report on the dredging that pumped 30,000 cubic yards of sand around the scoured-out pilings that are the problem, the audience kept pushing Jennings on the best case and worst case.

He obviously didn't want to falsely raise anyone’s hopes, but, finally, he said the best case would be this weekend or early next week and the worst case would be 60 to 90 days.

“So far, we’ve had very good success with the dredging,” he said.

He added that the initial sonar scans have shown that the dredged sand has held in place “much better than we thought.”

“Give us a few more days,” he said.

He said DOT will continue to check the sand depth around the scoured pilings by sonar and with divers in the coming days to evaluate if the sand has stayed in place and how it has compacted.

If all goes well, the bridge could be open within the week.

If not, the bridge could perhaps not reopen until emergency repairs are made.

NCDOT awarded a $1.6 million contract to Carolina Bridge Company Inc. of Orangeburg, S.C., last week for emergency repairs to the bridge.

The contractor, Jennings said, has mobilized at the site and materials for the repairs are arriving. Later this week, the company will drive two test pilings nearing the scour area to help engineers better analyze the conditions in the dynamic Oregon Inlet.

The Island Free Press will publish more information from the community meeting tomorrow.


RELATED ARTICLES:

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Initial dredging work on Bonner Bridge is complete
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Dare officials plan community meeting on Hatteras on bridge closure

DOT officials address Bonner safety concerns at press conference in Manteo....WITH VIDEO
Confusion, chaos, and outrage reign as DOT suddenly decides to close Bonner Bridge....WITH SLIDE SHOW
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