plan to start work sometime today to move two runaway barges that broke
loose from a mooring 8 miles southwest of the Bonner Bridge replacement
construction site during Hurricane Matthew, traveled about 20 or so
miles down the Pamlico Sound, and ended up high and dry -- one in north
Avon and the other just south of Avon.
first barge that the contractors will move is the one between Avon and
the Canadian Hole. Moving the barge is expected to be completed on
Friday and the contactors will move on to the second barge.
barges have presented a challenge to the bridge contractor, PCL Civil
Contractors, which was hired by the N.C. Department of Transportation
for the Bonner project and which has rented the barges to use during
the construction of the replacement of the bridge over Oregon Inlet.
Hernandez, the resident engineer for the NCDOT and the
project manager for the Bonner replacement project, said the barges --
called "tool" barges because they carry tools -- were being used in the
pile-driving operation in the center section of the new bridge.
Hurricane Matthew approached, PCL readied the site according to a storm
plan that had been coordinated with regulatory agencies and the U.S.
Coast Guard. The plan included moving the barges to a mooring away from
the bridge construction site.
the two barges broke loose in Matthew's hurricane-force wind gusts and
storm surge and traveled down Hatteras Island until they both came
ashore within about seven miles of each other near Avon.
U.S. Coast Guard reports that personnel at Coast Guard Sector Field
Office (SFO) Cape Hatteras received a call from the Dare County
Emergency Operations Center at about 1:50 p.m. Sunday, during the
storm, stating one barge went adrift in Pamlico Sound and was aground
in the vicinity of Weakfish Drive in north Avon, in close proximity to
Free Press photographer Don Bowers found that barge up against the
bulkhead of one of the waterfront properties and still apparently
That 140-foot barge contains approximately 300 gallons of diesel fuel and 100 gallons of hydraulic oil.
to the Coast Guard, local authorities evacuated people from homes in
the vicinity of the grounded barge and no injuries were reported.
personnel determined later Sunday that a second 140-foot barge had
broken free of its mooring at the same site and was also adrift in
Pamlico Sound. The second barge was located Monday morning grounded
between Canadian Hole and Askins Creek in south Avon.
The second barge contains approximately 200 gallons of diesel fuel and 300 gallons of hydraulic oil.
There have been no reports of pollution from either barge.
barges are stable and not likely to move given the current water
and weather conditions, Pablo Hernandez, the resident
engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation and
the project manager for the Bonner replacement project, said in an email
last week. "All the equipment on the barges is accounted
for, secure, and stable."
the better part of the past 10 days since the storm, PCL has been
figuring out a plan for removing the barges from their resting places.
says that PCL has contracted with a company that specializes in marine
salvage, Center Lift, based in Louisiana. Center Lift engineers,
he says, have reviewed photographs of the barges, aerial images,
locations, environmental factors, and concluded that pneumatic roller
bags are the best option to recover the barges.
bags can be positioned under the barges, inflated to a point which
allows for an offshore towing winch to advance the barge off the
shore," Hernandez explained in an email. "The towing winch is mounted
on a shallow draft barge, which is anchored in the soundside water up
to 1,500 feet away from the barge to be recovered.
the barge is pulled off the shore and buoyant, smaller push boats and a
shallow draft tug boat will pull and/or push the barge to Cape
Channel. From Cape Channel, the barges will be taken to the
Pamlico Sound mooring site 23 miles north of Avon or the bridge project
equipment and materials for the barge recovery operations will be
consolidated and assembled at the Bonner Bridge project site and
transported to the barge recovery sites by water.
said that the first barge with equipment on it left the Bonner
construction site yesterday afternoon, and second barge was expected to
leave last night or this morning.
"The barge recovery operations will be marine based to access the barges," Hernandez says.
NCDOT has reviewed the plans provided by PCL and finds the methodology
and plans thorough and acceptable, " he adds.
part of the NCDOT’s partnership with the various environmental agencies
for the Bonner Bridge replacement project," he says, "the plans have
been shared with the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corp of
Engineers, N.C. Division of Coastal Management (NCDCM),
N..C Division of Water Resources, N.C. State Historic Preservation
Office, and National Park Service. All the agencies
have responded such that recovery can proceed."
Coast Guard will have two members of the Marine Safety Center SERT
(Salvage Engineering Response Team) and a safety observer on site
during the recoveries. The Park Service will also have an observer at
the recovery site of the barge on park property near Canadian Hole.
says that concurrent to this review by the NCDOT and the
agencies, PCL has been coordinating mobilization of the
personnel, materials, and equipment to the Bonner Bridge Project
the specialized equipment and personnel," he says, "at this time it is
anticipated that work will begin Wednesday, Oct. 19, with the
goal of having the first barge removed from the shoreline and in deep
water by Friday, Oct 21.
recovery operation will move immediately to the second barge and
expects to have them both back to the construction site in a week's
know it is the NCDOT’s and PCL’s mission to remove these barges
as soon as possible," Hernandez added. "However, keep in mind that the
operations are weather and equipment dependent. Further, the
protection of the environment, the protection of private and public
property, and site safety are paramount to this mission and will
constantly be monitored by NCDOT, PCL , and the various