Gov. Pat McCrory announced today that the final roadblocks were cleared on Friday, Aug. 14, allowing the N.C. Department of Transportation to proceed with construction of a new Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet.
Completing the terms of a settlement agreement reached in June, the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, have dropped all remaining lawsuits that prevented NCDOT from replacing the 52-year-old Bonner Bridge with a new bridge parallel to the existing one.
“This marks another historic milestone in finally replacing the critical lifeline bridge for residents and visitors of the Outer Banks and supporting our continued efforts to connect North Carolina,” McCrory said in a news release. “I want to thank the entire team of NCDOT employees, state, and federal attorneys who have worked so hard to make this possible and find a solution for the Bonner Bridge project which had been stalled for more than 20 years.”
With the final dismissals, NCDOT and the contractor expect to complete final design and pre-construction work in time to begin building the new bridge in the spring of 2016.
In addition to replacing the Bonner, NCDOT will also:
Construct a new interim bridge over the inlet on Pea Island created by Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Construct a 2.5 mile-long Pamlico Sound bridge, known as a “jug handle,” from the southern end of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge into Rodanthe
Bonner Bridge Replacement
NCDOT awarded a $216 million design-build contract for the 3.5 mile-long Bonner Bridge replacement to the team of PCL Constructors Inc. and HDR Engineering Inc. of the Carolinas in 2011. This contract is still in place and DOT officials say the final contract amount will be adjusted to meet current costs associated with the construction delay.
Pea Island Inlet
NCDOT will move forward with plans to construct an interim bridge on Pea Island at the location of the existing temporary bridge that was constructed after Hurricane Irene. DOT says the interim bridge will be easier to maintain than the existing temporary bridge. It will provide safe access for the area while the department studies options for a long-term solution at this location.
NCDOT expects to award a contract for this project in the fall, with construction starting as early as the end of this year.
Rodanthe Long-Term Bridge
With the preferred design officially approved by the project merger team, NCDOT can also proceed with constructing the long-term bridge for Highway from the southern end of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge south into Rodanthe.
By replacing the existing stretch of Highway 12 with a bridge in the Pamlico Sound, NCDOT says it will be able to maintain safe and reliable access for residents and visitors of Rodanthe and southern Hatteras Island. This area includes a section of N.C. 12 north of Rodanthe known locally as the “S-curves,” also damaged by Hurricane Irene in 2011.
The bridge is estimated to cost between $178.8 million and $197.8 million. Before a design-build contract is awarded and a time-frame for construction can be set, final documentation must be completed.
The department says it chose this design over a bridge along the existing route of Highway 12 because it minimizes impacts to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, the ocean shoreline and the Rodanthe community.
At long last, a new Bonner Bridge will be built
Moving forward with the Bonner Bridge replacement