Due to a pattern of bad weather and storms throughout the fall season, the opening of the new Bonner Bridge has been delayed from the originally scheduled January 2019 to February or March of 2019.
Though the bridge is complete and fully intact, crews are still working on the finishing touches to allow vehicles on the structure.
“The main thing that has [delayed the opening] has been the weather,” said Tim Haas, NCDOT Public Relations Officer. “Over the fall we had a lot of regular rain, and then two major storms, and that tends to delay things – especially at the end of a project like this.”
“Even though the structure itself is done, there’s a lot of little work that has to be completed before we can open it to traffic,” he added, noting that both electric lines and internet cables are in the process of being moved from the old bridge to the new bridge as well. “Lots of things have to be finished before we can put cars on it.”
Once the bridge is complete, it may open in one-lane stages. For example, one direction of traffic will be directed to the new bridge while the other lane is worked on, while traffic in the opposite direction (north or south) will be directed to the old, current Bonner Bridge.
“There are still a lot of details on the opening to be determined, like if we can open both lanes at the same time, or open one lane first, and then the other,” said Haas.
Project managers are also in the process of orchestrating the grand opening celebration, and the specifics of the official ribbon cutting ceremony and related events will be forthcoming.
Once the new bridge is finished, crews will get to work removing the “old” Bonner Bridge just east of the new site, leaving behind 1,000 feet of the existing structure at the southern end. This portion of the old bridge will remain in place and will be open for pedestrians and fishermen, and the rail will be updated to be more pedestrian-friendly and safer.
The project in its entirety is set to be completed by the end of 2019, which includes about 10 months for the demolition of the original bridge. The project began with a groundbreaking in March of 2016, and has remained relatively on schedule throughout the duration of the construction.