RALEIGH — The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on N.C. Highway 12 was reopened Sunday afternoon after North Carolina Department of Transportation engineers deemed the bridge safe for traffic, Gov. Pat McCrory and Transportation Secretary Tony Tata announced Sunday.
The bridge was closed to traffic on Dec. 3 after NCDOT declared the bridge was unsafe for motor traffic because of sand erosion around the bridge’s pilings.
In a news release Sunday, Tata said emergency dredging had “fortified the support structure enough to allow traffic to safely travel on the bridge for now.
“Our experts have closely analyzed all the data, and we are confident that the sand pumped through emergency dredging work last weekend fortified the support structure enough to allow traffic to safely travel on the bridge for now.” Tata said in the release.
He said NCDOT will continue to closely monitor the bridge through inspections and weekly scans while emergency repair work is under way.
Following an emergency declaration by Gov. McCrory, NCDOT hired a contractor and launched aggressive dredging efforts during the weekend of Dec. 7 and 8. Crews pumped approximately 30,000 cubic yards of sand from the main navigation channel of the Oregon Inlet to the location at Bent 166 underneath the Bonner Bridge.
The emergency repairs are not considered a permanent fix for the aging Bonner Bridge. After 50 years of weathering many storms, the bridge needs to be replaced. In July 2011, NCDOT awarded a $215.8 million contract for the design and construction of a new bridge. Design work began immediately and construction of the new bridge was set to begin in early 2013; however, lawsuits have put the project on hold.
NCDOT awarded a $1.6 million contract to Carolina Bridge Company Inc. of Orangeburg, S.C. for emergency repairs on the Bonner Bridge.
Meanwhile, emergency ferry service between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point will continue until Monday morning. The last ferry out of Stumpy Point will be at 5 a.m. and the last ferry out of Rodanthe will be at 6 a.m., depending on need. The division activated this route with limited service the night of the bridge closure.
The route went into full operation Wednesday, Dec. 4. Ferry information is available on the Ferry Division website, by calling 800-293-3779, or via Facebook and Twitter at @NCDOT_Ferry.