Governor Pat McCrory (R–N.C.) applauded a major milestone in replacing the Bonner Bridge on N.C. 12 crossing Oregon Inlet yesterday as the first piling was installed into Oregon Inlet that will form part of the foundation of the new bridge.
The bridge will have a total of 673 pilings, ranging in length from 110 ft to 130 ft and made of concrete. Laid end to end, they would stretch for a total of 16.5 miles — a little longer than the distance between Oregon Inlet Fishing Center and Rodanthe. Two different-sized pilings will be used to form the foundation. The majority of the pilings will be 36 in. square; however, the ones used in the marsh, shallow water, and land portions of the new bridge will be round, hollow columns, 54 in. in diameter.
The first pilings will be installed in the middle of the bridge where the navigation span will be and are being installed on a slight angle to provide greater stability to support the new bridge. Based on extensive analysis and modeling, the new bridge is designed to eliminate problems with scour, which occurs when the sand washes away from the pilings. The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) monitors the existing bridge for scour, which has caused safety concerns over the years, and forced the department to close the bridge entirely in December 2013.
Governor McCrory, Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson, Board of Transportation member Malcolm Fearing and other local, state and federal government officials, as well as hundreds of local residents gathered on March 8 to officially break ground on the new bridge.
This project, including the demolition of the existing bridge, is scheduled to be complete in September 2019. Much of the work is in open water in Oregon Inlet and NCDOT cautions boaters to keep clear of barges and anchor buoys.