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Replacing the Bonner Bridge


  • Contract: The N.C. Department of Transportation awarded a design-build contract in July 2011 to PCL Civil Constructors Inc., with HDR Engineering Inc. of the Carolinas as the lead design firm. Design-build allows the department to hire a team of designers and builders under one contract. This reduces the overall design and construction time from what it would have been had the project been fully designed and then a contractor hired to build the project.
  • Project cost: $252 million (after contract adjustments for delays and design changes)
  • Length: 2.8 miles (existing bridge is 2.4 miles); the total project length is 3.5 miles, including a new road leading up to the bridge
  • Location: The new bridge will be located just west of the existing bridge, with the proximity ranging from 50 feet to 189 feet. Keeping the new bridge close to the existing bridge minimizes impacts on the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge on the south side and allows construction crews to use a temporary work trestle to be used to build the new bridge and remove the existing bridge on the north side.
  • Construction timeframe: The new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic in November 2018, and the overall project completion is scheduled for September 2019.
  • Life span: The new bridge is designed to have a life span of 100 years. The current bridge had a 30-year design life and has required significant maintenance and repair work to keep it safe and open over the years.

Design Benefits

  • Stainless reinforcing steel and high-durability concrete is being used to protect against corrosion from the harsh salt air and water. The high-performance concrete is the primary reason for the bridge’s increased life span. The concrete that will cover the reinforcing steel will be thicker and made of more dense and less permeable concrete than what is on the existing bridge.

    This will be the first bridge in North Carolina to use stainless reinforcing steel, which will provide additional protection against corrosion from salt water penetrating into key concrete components of the bridge. It also will reduce rehabilitation and maintenance costs.
  • The bridge’s pilings (foundation) will be longer and driven deeper into the inlet floor, which will prevent the issues with scour (sand washing away from around the piles) that plague the existing bridge. The new bridge is designed to stand strong to a 100-year worst-case scenario for scour.
  • The high-rise portion of the bridge will be 3,500 feet long with seven navigational spans, averaging about 300 feet in width each, which will provide more options for navigation under the bridge. Comparatively, the arched high rise of the existing bridge provides for only one navigational span with an opening of 130 feet.
  • The new bridge will have 12-foot-wide travel lanes and 8-foot-wide shoulders, which will improve safety. The current bridge has no shoulders.

Plans for the Existing Bridge

  • Part of the existing Bonner Bridge will be demolished and the material will be used at offshore reef sites in coordination with the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries.
  • About 1,000 feet of the existing bridge at the south end will remain in place and will be open for pedestrians. The rail will be updated to be more pedestrian-friendly and safer.

12/21/2018 12:54 PM