Video by Scott Caldwell
With the Bonner Bridge replacement open, and work on demolishing the old bridge imminent, crews are busy focusing on the new Jug Handle Bridge, which will extend for 2.4 miles from Rodanthe to the southern edge of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
The Jug Handle Bridge is considered part of Phase II of the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project, and is the last of the three bridges within the project guidelines to be built. The Jug Handle Bridge will bypass the S-Turns section of N.C. Highway 12, which is highly susceptible to breaches during storms.
Scheduled to open to traffic in late 2020, the project remains on schedule, and work in the open waters of the Pamlico Sound is expected to begin in the not-so-distant future.
The first pilings were driven into the ground on the Rodanthe terminus of the new bridge in early September 2018 and work is now progressing on both ends of the new bridge, with permits in place to start extending the project into the Pamlico Sound.
“The Coast Guard-approved permits are good to go, and we will start to see some building out in the water in the next few weeks,” said Tim Haas, NCDOT Public Relations Officer.
Work also continues on the construction of a rail system at the southern Rodanthe terminal of the Jug Handle Bridge, which will make it easier for materials to be moved into the open water in the future. At the northern terminal, a recent shift of N.C. Highway 12 of about 20-30 feet east has allowed more space for staging and managing equipment.
Meanwhile, while the Bonner Bridge replacement is open, final touches are being made to finalize the move of electric and internet cables from the old bridge to the new structure. Once that happens, crews can get to work on demolishing the old Bonner Bridge, leaving behind 1,000 feet of the structure on the southern side of Oregon Inlet as a walkway and fishing pier. Once demolition begins, it should take an estimated 10 months to complete.
Land closures may occur at both the Jug Handle Bridge and the Bonner Bridge replacement as work continues throughout the spring.