The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet reopened to traffic at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
North Carolina Department of Transportation engineers deemed the bridge safe for traffic after several sonar scans, driving two test pilings, and multiple inspections over the past week. The emergency repair work to add more support to the bridge continues.
“I want to thank our NCDOT team for quickly implementing an action plan to provide emergency ferry service for the citizens of Hatteras Island and for all of their hard work to safely reopen the Bonner Bridge,” said Gov. Pat McCrory. “This again highlights the need to replace the bridge as soon as possible, and our administration will continue to fight to get that done.”
Following an emergency declaration by, NCDOT hired a contractor and launched aggressive dredging efforts during the weekend of Dec. 7 and 8. Crews pumped approximately 30,000 cubic yards of sand from the main navigation channel of the Oregon Inlet to the location at Bent 166 underneath the Bonner Bridge where scour, or the erosion of sand from bridge pilings, caused NCDOT to close the bridge on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
“Our experts have closely analyzed all the data, and we are confident that the sand pumped through emergency dredging work last weekend fortified the support structure enough to allow traffic to safely travel on the bridge for now.” said State Transportation Secretary Tony Tata. ”We will continue to closely monitor the bridge through inspections and weekly sonar scans during the emergency repair work. If safety becomes a concern again, we will take the appropriate steps to ensure public safety.”
Early next week, weather permitting, contractor crews are scheduled to begin installing the four-foot tall by four-foot wide sandbags and four-foot tall A-Jacks that will provide support to the bridge pilings and prevent further scour from occurring. Crews currently are in the process of mobilizing and preparing the equipment and materials needed for the repair work, including filling sandbags and assembling A-Jacks.
The A-Jacks will interlock and be placed around the perimeter of the support structure at Bent 166. Crews will then place the sandbags inside the line of A-Jacks. This will stabilize the sand that has been pumped around the piles as well as allow additional sand to collect over the sandbags and A-Jacks, providing additional support to the structure.
NCDOT awarded a $1.6 million contract to Carolina Bridge Company Inc. of Orangeburg, S.C. for emergency repairs on the Bonner Bridge.
Emergency Ferry Route
NCDOT’s Ferry Division activated its emergency route between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe with limited service the night of the bridge closure. The route went into full operation Wednesday, Dec. 4, with steady traffic and short-to-moderate wait times reported at both terminals. Dare County Emergency Management has issued a priority loading list for the route. The emergency ferry route will continue seven days a week as long as service is needed. Ferry information is available on the Ferry Division website, by calling 800-293-3779, or via Facebook and Twitter at @NCDOT_Ferry.
For More Information
NCDOT will continue to update the public on this situation online and via its N.C. 12 Facebook page and N.C. 12 Twitter account. Photos of the various activities conducted at the bridge can be found on NCDOT’s Flickr site.
While NCDOT is working hard to reopen the Bonner Bridge to traffic as quickly as possible, the emergency repairs are not considered a permanent fix for the aging bridge. After 50 years of weathering many storms, the bridge needs to be replaced. In July 2011, NCDOT awarded a $215.8 million contract for the design and construction of a new bridge. Design work began immediately and construction of the new bridge was set to begin in early 2013; however, lawsuits have put the project on hold.