Manteo - Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson visited the Outer Banks today to view progress and receive an update on the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge replacement project. The bridge is an important lifeline for the community and plays a central role in providing safe, reliable transportation between Hatteras Island and the mainland.
The state reached a significant milestone when Governor McCrory joined local, state and federal officials to break ground on the Bonner Bridge replacement over Oregon Inlet on March 8, 2016. The replacement bridge project was held up by ongoing disputes for more than two decades until the McCrory administration reached a settlement to move forward with the project.
"The construction of the Bonner Bridge replacement project is one of the most significant transportation achievements for the Outer Banks community in recent history," Secretary Tennyson said. "This bridge connects the island community to jobs, healthcare, education and recreation, and provides access to millions of tourists who visit the island every year. Thanks to Governor McCrory's leadership and vision, Hatteras Island will soon have a new, modern bridge that will safely carry traffic for the next hundred years."
The bridge is designed and constructed in five different zones. Construction started at the south end approach, north end approach and navigational spans. Once the north and south approaches are completed, work will begin on the sections that will connect each end with the navigation zone (the high rise).
The pilings (vertical supports that form part of the bridge foundation) being installed at the middle of the bridge where the navigation spans will be are driven on a slight angle to provide greater stability to support the new bridge.
This is where the highest portion of the bridge is being built. It will include seven navigational spans to provide more options for boat traffic. This high-rise portion of the new bridge will be 3,500 feet long and each span will average about 300 feet in width. Comparatively, the existing bridge provides for only one navigational span with an opening of 130 feet.
To date, 98 pilings have been driven, and ten bents, or piers, are nearly completed. The bridge will have a total of 673 pilings. Laid end to end, they would stretch for a total of 16.5 miles - a little longer than the distance between Oregon Inlet Fishing Center and Rodanthe.
On the north end of the project, a work trestle is taking shape that will allow construction crews to work over the wetlands and shallow waters in this area. On the south end of the project, a loading dock has been built, traffic has been shifted and pilings are being installed where the bridge and highway will connect.
The new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic in November 2018. The overall project, including the demolition of the existing bridge, is scheduled to complete in September 2019.
The N.C. Department of Transportation began working with the local community, as well as state and federal resource agencies, on plans to replace the existing bridge with a new parallel one in 1989. After reaching agreement on how and where to build the bridge, a contract was signed in 2011 for the design and construction of the new bridge, but construction was stalled by litigation.
In June 2015, after four years of delay, the McCrory administration reached a settlement agreement with the petitioners that allowed the state to move forward with replacing the Bonner Bridge with a new parallel bridge.
For more information on the Bonner Bridge replacement project, including videos, photos, fact sheets and construction timelines, visit: ncdot.gov/projects/bonnerbridgereplace/.