Raleigh, N.C. -- Governor Pat McCrory and Transportation Secretary Tony Tata announce the reopening of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on N.C. 12 at 4 p.m. this 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 Governor Pat McCrory. "This again highlights the need to replace the bridge as soon as possible, and our adminstration 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 December 7th and 8th. 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, December 3rd.
"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."
Emergency ferry service between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point will continue until Monday morning. The last ferry out of Stumpy Point will be at 5 a.m. and the last ferry out of Rodanthe will be at 6 a.m., depending on need. The division activated this route with limited service the night of the bridge closure. The route went into full operation Wednesday, December 4th. Ferry information is available on the Ferry Division website and Twitter at @NCDOT_Ferry.
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 underway, 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. The department will provide advance notice of these short-term closures.
The emergency repairs are not considered a permanent fix for the aging Bonner 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.