Project should smooth out bumpy ride across Outer Banks bridge

Posted at 6:43 PM, Aug 07, 2013

Dare County, N.C. (WTKR) - A rough ride across the Wright Memorial Bridge should become a lot smoother next year thanks to a $6.3 million project slated to start this fall.

The Wright Memorial Bridge connects mainland Currituck County with Dare County on the Outer Banks.

For years, residents and visitors alike have noticed a bumpy ride when leaving the Outer Banks across the westbound span.

"Going home, you go across that bridge and it's just thump, thump, thump, thump thump," explained Richard Harper, who visits the Outer Banks every summer from West Virginia.

NCDOT says the project will replace the existing concrete on the bridge deck with a latex-modified concrete that should be smoother. Seals on the bridge expansion joints will also be replaced during the project.

The work can only be done when air temperatures are between 50 and 85 degrees, when surface temperatures are between 40 and 85 degrees and when wind speeds are less than 10 miles per hour.

The project could start as early as September 15, with the bridge re-opening to traffic by May 15, 2014.

During construction, the westbound span of the bridge will be closed to all traffic. Westbound traffic will shift to the eastbound span which will operate bi-directionally for the duration of the work.

Jennifer Garifo, with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, tells NewsChannel 3 that starting west of the intersection of 158 and S.Dogwood Trail/Woods Road, westbound traffic will go from two lanes down to one.

Garifo adds that by the time westbound traffic reached the light at Martins Point Road, it will be shifted into the right lane of eastbound 158. That traffic will continue on the eastbound bridge with the help of barrels and road barricades.

Westbound traffic will be shifted back into the westbound lanes of 58 at the intersection of Holly Lane / Swan Circle in Currituck County.

NCDOT also tells NewsChannel 3 that closure of the bridge will likely happen in late September.

They say should a late-season hurricane evacuation become necessary, one-lane of traffic should be adequate. They also add that depending on the timing of any later in the season storms, re-opening the westbound span could be a possibility depending on where the contractor is with the project.

The timing of the project was planned to avoid impacts to summer tourism traffic.

The Wright Memorial Bridge project is one of 29 contracts totaling $107.5 million awarded by NCDOT in June for highway and bridge projects all across the state of North Carolina.