Construction will begin soon on the new interim bridge along Highway 12 at Pea Island in Dare County.
The N.C. Department of Transportation today awarded a $14.3 million contract to T.A. Loving Co. of Goldsboro, N.C., for the construction of a new concrete bridge that will replace the existing metal temporary bridge constructed in 2011 at New Inlet following Hurricane Irene.
Work can begin as early as Nov. 30, with completion scheduled by April 12, 2017. A $5,000 per-day penalty will be incurred for every day the new bridge is not open to traffic after April 12, 2017.
As part of the settlement agreement to replace the aging Bonner Bridge with a new parallel bridge, NCDOT agreed to cancel construction of a permanent structure, prepare a report, and work with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and a merger team — made up of local and federal regulatory agencies — to determine the preferred alternative, long-term solution for Pea Island.
“At this point in time the state is not pursuing or recommending one specific option for a permanent solution over any other,” said NCDOT Secretary Nick Tennyson. “We are pleased to award this contract and begin construction as we work collaboratively to identify the best possible long-term Pea Island solution for connectivity and safety.”
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 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.
In spring of 2014, NCDOT began construction of a permanent bridge on Pea Island to replace the current temporary bridge. DOT 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.
To adjust for the cancellation of the permanent Pea Island bridge project, crews will remove the wider sections of Highway 12 on both ends of the temporary bridge that were constructed as an on-site detour for the previous project. The original alignment of Highway 12 approaching the bridge in both directions will also be restored to their original locations.