The first piling that will form part of the foundation of the new Herbert C. Bonner bridge was installed on Monday, May 9, marking a major milestone in the long effort to replace the aging bridge that carries Highway 12 traffic across Oregon Inlet.
According to a news release from the governor’s office, the bridge will have a total of 673 pilings, ranging in length from 110 feet to 130 feet and made of concrete. Laid end to end, they would stretch for a total of 16.5 miles — a little longer than the distance between Oregon Inlet Fishing Center and Rodanthe.
Two different sized pilings will be used to form the foundation. The majority of the pilings will be 36 inches square. However, the ones used in the marsh, shallow water, and land portions of the new bridge will be round, hollow columns 54 inches in diameter.
The first pilings will be installed in the middle of the bridge where the navigation span will be and are being installed on a slight angle to provide greater stability to support the new bridge.
Based on extensive analysis and modeling, the new bridge is designed to eliminate problems with scour, which occurs when the sand washes away from the pilings. The N.C. Department of Transportation monitors the existing bridge for scour, which has caused safety concerns over the years, and forced the department to close the bridge entirely in December 2013.
“As we lay the foundation of the new Bonner Bridge, we are one step closer to providing a much needed lifeline between the Outer Banks and mainland North Carolina,” said Gov. Pat McCrory. “This is a great day for the people of the Outer Banks and all of North Carolina as we take a significant step toward better connecting our citizens to jobs, healthcare and recreation.”
This project, including the demolition of the existing bridge, is scheduled to be complete in September 2019. Much of the work is in open water in Oregon Inlet and NCDOT cautions boaters to keep clear of barges and anchor buoys.
For more information on the project, including videos, photos, fact sheets and construction timelines, visit the Bonner Bridge Replacement project webpage.