Officials discuss plans to repair closed Bonner Bridge

Posted at 1:50 PM, Dec 03, 2013
and last updated 2013-12-05 11:45:28-05

Update: A press conference was held on Wednesday to discuss the current closure of the Bonner Bridge in Dare County.

This is one of the images shown at a news conference in Manteo. It illustrates why crews closed the bridge. It shows in red the difference between the current level of sand and where the sand should be around the pilings that are experiencing scour. For reference, on each pile, there is 20 feet from the top of the red to the bottom of the pile (Photo from NCDOT).

During this conference, officials discussed the areas of concern on the bridge. One showed the difference between the current level of sand and where the sand should be around the pillings that are experiencing scour.

Bonner scan 2

This image shows the area where the scour problem is occurring. The department previously installed protective measures on the support immediately to the right of that area in this image.

They also showed an image that displays the area where the scour problem is occurring. Officials say they were awarded a $1.6 million contract for emergency repairs. They are now working with the contractor to create a timeframe to complete the repairs.

They will be using sandbags and A-jacks to support the bridge pillings. The A-jacks locked together will be put into a perimeter around the support structure of the bridge.

Crews will also fill the perimeter with sandbags for support. Two more layers of A-jacks and sandbags will be placed on top of the base layer.

Previous: The North Carolina Department of Transportation has closed the Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet to NC-12 along the Outer Banks today due to immediate safety concerns.

Sonar scanning of the bridge has identified scouring concerns, or areas where too much sand has eroded from the support structure of the bridge.

NCDOT crews have been monitoring the conditions of the bridge all week. The inspections have revealed additional areas of concern, which led officials to the decision to close the bridge immediately.

The bridge will remain closed until additional resources can be brought in to inspect the bridge and make necessary repairs.

NCDOT has declared a state of emergency as a way of expediting the process.

The Bonner Bridge is the only highway access for vehicles between Hatteras Island and the mainland.

Until it reopens, NCDOT will provide ferries to move people and cars across the Pamlico Sound.

Ferry workers have already tested emergency ferry ramps at Stumpy Point and Rodanthe. Four vessels are already en route to begin operating the emergency Hatteras Island Route.

All tolls currently in place on the Ocracoke-Swan Quarter and Ocracoke-Cedar Island ferry routes will be waived for residents, emergency personnel and vendors while the bridge is closed and the emergency ferry route is in operation. The U.S. Coast Guard is also currently on standby.

At full capacity on a full schedule, the route can ferry 760 single cars a day, 380 from each side.

The Bonner Bridge was built in 1963 and about 13,000 vehicles cross it during peak season in the summer.

Crews started the process of replacing it back in 1989. In 1990, a barge crashed into the bridge and destroyed several spans. It was closed for a few months.

Since this time, NCDOT has spent almost 56 million to repair, maintain and inspect the Bonner Bridge.

The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was approved in November of 1993.

Clyde Coltrane remembers when this happened in 1990. The bridge was shut down for months.

NCDOT says more crews are needed to assess what needs to be done and how long it'll take.

"You really don't know when you get over here when you'll get back," Coltrane said.

"We knew it was coming, we didn't know it was going to be like this," Paul Tate of Rodanthe said.

Friday sonar detected the bridge was in critical shape, four days of worsening conditions made it unsafe today.

"I'd much rather us to be standing in line here or waiting in line here than somebody falling to death," Tate said.

"If you live on the island you have to be sort of used to this kind of stuff," Tate said. "It's the bridge that we have, this should have been taken care of many year ago."

Click here to read a FAQ from The Outer Banks Visitor's Bureau on the closure.

SELC has released a statement regarding the closure of the bridge. Click here to read the full statement.

Bonner Bridge requires urgent repair, but remains open for now

NC Ferry System to provide access to Hatteras Island after Bonner Bridge closure