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Fixing Hatteras bridge to start Friday

Posted December 5, 2013
Updated December 6, 2013

— Dredging will begin Friday in the Oregon Inlet to shore up the base of Bonner Bridge, which state transportation officials closed Tuesday because of safety concerns.

The move comes one day after Gov. Pat McCrory's Thursday emergency declaration, which allowed the state to bypass the usual permitting process, clearing the way for the state Department of Transportation to hire Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. for the two-day process.

The declaration also allows the state to seek federal assistance and assets, such as advice or equipment from the Army Corps of Engineers, and McCrory has asked Secretary of Public Safety Frank Perry to seek federal reimbursement for repair costs.

The DOT already awarded a $1.6 million contract to Carolina Bridge Co. of Orangeburg, S.C., for the bridge repairs, but officials haven't laid out a timeline for the repair process, which involves layering interlocking pieces of concrete to create a 10- to 12-foot perimeter around the bridge's pilings and filling the area with sandbags.

"Safety will be the sole factor in determining when the Bonner Bridge reopens to traffic,” McCrory said.

Bonner Bridge is the only road access for vehicles between Hatteras Island and the mainland. DOT is operating an emergency ferry route between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe, and officials added two extra daily roundtrips late Thursday and early Friday to bring the daily total to 12.

Hatteras Island residents are learning to cope with the difficulty of getting to the mainland and back home, but it's not easy.

The Coast Guard had to help two people off the island early Thursday, including a woman in labor.

Later in the day, Maggie Smith said she worries about her sister, who has heart problems and needs regular trips to the mainland for blood work.

Hatteras Island emergency ferry Slots on ferries hottest real estate on, off Hatteras Island

"She can't always catch the ferry. She doesn't drive," said Smith, who barely caught a Thursday afternoon ferry off the island.

Relying on ferries for deliveries also is pinching island businesses, including John Couch's auto parts store.

"If it is a bad weather day, we may not get a delivery," Couch said, calling Bonner Bridge "our lifeline."

Still, he said he backs the decision to close the bridge for repairs.

"You can't mess around with the safety and welfare of the public," he said. "If the bridge is bad, it is bad. So, close it down."

At Conner's Supermarket, Travis Salyers said he is working with the ferries to keep his shelves stocked with everything from Band-Aids to bell peppers. Just as important, he said, the state needs to keep the tourists coming to the island, even in the off-season.

"Number-wise, we could see probably a big drop," Salyers said.

When it was built in 1963, Bonner Bridge was designed to last 30 years. DOT began the process of trying to replace it in 1989 and awarded a contract of almost $216 million two years ago for construction of a parallel span.

Construction was set to begin earlier this year, but legal challenges have delayed that. Environmentalists want the state to build a 17-mile bridge over the Pamlico Sound, estimated to cost more than $1.1 billion, to spare the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

56 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • mountain_luver Dec 6, 3:31 p.m.

    Time for a toll bridge

  • baldchip Dec 6, 2:57 p.m.

    Build the new bridge-it's an emergency!! Citizens of NC depend on that bridge. Johnny boy's buddies are blocking the new bridge!!

    Fix the old bridge NOW-but get moving on the new one. That bridge is the most dangerous bridge in the state. #2-the old Yadkin River Bridge on I-85 is gone and the new one open!!

    It took getting the GOP in office to get movement on this bridge!! DemocRATS would not fight each other over progress for teh citizens!!

    Get er done Gov. Pat!!!

  • tceawvzwvpev Dec 6, 1:15 p.m.

    Lazy reporting by WRAL. This article completely ignores the whole history of the replacement project. Why was the long bridge plan shelved in 2003? Why was the Bonner Bridge closed with hardly any public warning when it was declared safe days before? Whose estimate is the 1.1 billion? The DOT said just last year it would be 500-600 million.

    The article and comments here assume that long bridge proponents just care about birds. This taxpayer wants to see a long term bridge solution - not build the same one over and over that will have to be closed every major storm due to NC-12 washouts - how much will that cost?

  • aspenstreet1717 Dec 6, 1:12 p.m.

    Swan Quarter? Why is it supposed to be easy?? I enjoy the ferry ride. Done it many times. Part of the adventure.

  • Pirate01 Dec 6, 1:03 p.m.

    "Extra ferry from Swan Quarter to Hatteras. Leave the bridge as a monument to stupidity. Riding the ferry is a fun part of the trip.
    aspenstreet1717"

    AND Swan Quarter is such a easy and convenient trip for everyone. Buy a map!!!

  • Pirate01 Dec 6, 1:02 p.m.

    The bridge that is currently there was built with 1960's technology. Was designed for 30 years of life. And has lasted almost 50 years. The next bridge will last even longer and continue with this vital link for locals and TOURISTS to drive from the northern Outer Banks to the Southern.

  • aspenstreet1717 Dec 6, 12:55 p.m.

    Extra ferry from Swan Quarter to Hatteras. Leave the bridge as a monument to stupidity.
    Riding the ferry is a fun part of the trip.

  • golorealist Dec 6, 12:50 p.m.

    "The DOT has awarded a contract for the new bridge at $215 million. There are 4001 residents on on Hatteras Island. That works out to about $53,500.00 per resident. Does that make sense?" - blisstate

    this is a simplistic view of a complex equation. the revenue generated in this state as a result of that bridge is significant. i have no doubt that the net present value of a new bridge would be significantly positive considering the lifespan of a bridge.

  • Pirate01 Dec 6, 12:28 p.m.

    God Bless Pat McCrory and his quick action. After 20 years of stonewalling by democrats and environmental terrorists we are finally going to get something done.

  • lazyrebel Dec 6, 11:50 a.m.

    The enviornmental n - u t s are out again, I would say that most people in dare co are not wealthy land owners. What about the locals? Really too bad he can't declare a state of emergency to build the bridge.

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