Bonner Bridge reopens to traffic after tests; repair work to continue

Raleigh, N.C.– North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory and Transportation Secretary Tony Tata announced the reopening of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on N.C. 12 at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

NCDOT 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.

The re-opened bridge brings with is a sigh of relief for those who live and work on Hatteras Island.

Jason Heilig owns Rodanthe Surf Shop. He estimates his business was cut in half, if not more, by the closure of the bridge.

“My foot traffic has gone to nothing since the bridge has been closed, very quiet around here,” Heilig commented.

Emergency ferry service between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point continued until Monday morning. The last ferry out of Stumpy Point was at 5 a.m. and the last ferry out of Rodanthe was at 6 a.m.

After repositioning boats Monday, the Ferry System will resume its regular winter schedule beginning Tuesday, December 17. Resumption of the schedule will mean increased service between Hatteras and Ocracoke, reduced service between Ocracoke and Swan Quarter, and a slight adjustment in departure times between Ocracoke and Cedar Island.

The regular schedule, beginning Tuesday, is as follows:

HATTERAS-OCRACOKE:

  • Hourly departures from both sides between 5 a.m. and midnight

CEDAR ISLAND-OCRACOKE:

  • Departing from Cedar Island: 7 a.m, 10, and 4p.m.
  • Departing from Ocracoke: 7:30 a.m, 1p.m., and 4.

SWAN QUARTER-OCRACOKE:

  • Departing from Swan Quarter: 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Departing from Ocracoke: 7 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

“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 Governor 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 Governor McCrory,  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 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 this week, weather permitting, contractors 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 in an effort to 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. The sandbags will be 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  more 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.

Previously crutch bent repairs continued through the bridge closure and will continue with no lane closures anticipated.  Concrete repairs will resume after the holiday period.

Additionally, as crews begin installing sandbags and concrete armor units for emergency scour repairs, the bridge may need to be closed intermittently to accommodate this work. NCDOT will provide advance notice of these short-term closures.

The emergency repairs are not considered a permanent fix for the aging Bonner Bridge.

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.

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