December 4, 2015

Preliminary work is underway on new interim Pea Island bridge

Drivers on Highway 12 in Dare County are beginning to see activity at the site of the temporary Pea Island bridge over New Inlet.

The N.C. Department of Transportation  awarded a $14.3 million contract to T.A. Loving Co. of Goldsboro in November for the construction of a new interim bridge made out of concrete that will replace the existing metal temporary bridge constructed in 2011 following Hurricane Irene.

Crews began surveying work this week at the location of the new bridge. Next week, weather permitting, crews will begin additional preparation work on the ground, including rebuilding a portion of Highway 12 that was originally taken out for the construction of the previously-planned permanent bridge project.

Once rebuilding is complete, traffic will be shifted back to its original alignment and the pavement constructed for the onsite detour will be removed. Traffic is not expected to be affected during this work.

In January 2016, crews will bring in materials in preparation of work, starting in the coming months. Pipeline will be brought in for use in supplying water that will be used to install the bridge pilings. Wooden mats will also be brought in that will be placed on the ground, allowing for crews to drive and move equipment up to and along the bridge construction site.

Actual construction of the Pea Island Interim bridge is scheduled to begin in March 2016. The bridge is expected to be open to traffic by April 2017.

The existing temporary bridge is 663 feet long, has two 12-foot-wide lanes and no shoulders. The new bridge will be just under a half-mile long, with the southern end located 1,100 feet south of the existing temporary bridge. It will have two 12-foot-wide lanes and 4-foot-wide shoulders on each side. The new bridge will include 47 spans, each 50 feet in length, and will have the same elevation as the highest point of the existing temporary bridge.

Traffic along Highway 12 will continue to use the existing temporary bridge while construction is underway. There will be lane shifts and lane closures in place occasionally throughout construction. However, the road will remain open to traffic.

The new interim bridge will be easier to maintain than the existing temporary bridge and will allow for better access to and from communities along the Outer Banks until a long-term solution can be identified.

Project Background

In spring of 2014, NCDOT began construction of a permanent bridge on Pea Island to replace the current metal temporary bridge. NCDOT suspended work on the Pea Island Bridge on Sept. 9, 2014, while the department and groups represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center were in negotiations regarding an agreement allowing for the replacement of the Bonner Bridge.

As part of the settlement, announced in June 2015, NCDOT agreed to cancel the permanent Pea Island bridge project and move forward with constructing an interim temporary bridge while the department prepares a report and works with FHWA to identify possible long-term options for protecting Highway 12 in this location.

The report, which is expected to be complete by early 2017, will look at all options including those carrying Highway 12 along Pea Island, as well as options for carrying the road over the Pamlico Sound.

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