The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which carries N.C. 12 over Oregon Inlet between Hatteras and Bodie islands, is well past its design life and is being replaced with a new bridge that will better withstand its coastal environment. Work began in March 2006, and now it looks like the project is segueing in to its final phase in advance of its completion later this year.
About a 3,500-ft section of N.C. 12 just north of Rodanthe and the S-curves is being shifted 20-30 ft to the east to make way for upcoming construction on the new 2.4-mile “jug handle” bridge, which is considered part of the second phase of the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project, along with the Capt. Richard Etheridge Bridge on Pea Island that was completed spring 2018.
The jug handle bridge will stretch from the southern portion of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to northern Rodanthe, and will bypass the S-turns section of N.C. 12, which is highly susceptible to breaches during storms.
The temporary traffic shift similar to the temporary highway relocation while the Bonner Bridge was under construction will remain in place until the jug handle bridge construction is complete. The move provides more room on the soundside for trucks and equipment to access the northern terminus site of the new jug handle bridge.
“Shifting Highway 12 a little to the east will make it safer and easier for people to (travel through) the area,” said North Carolina DOT Public Relations Officer Tim Haas.
Crews continue to work on the finishing touches of the new Bonner Bridge to allow vehicles on the structure, such as paving the on-ramps that connect the bridge to N.C. 12.
“Our goal is to open the (entire) bridge at once, without one-lane closures,” said Haas.
The Bonner Bridge was originally scheduled to open by the end of 2018, but bad weather and two major storms that affected the Outer Banks in the fall caused delay late in the project, which did remain on schedule for the majority of the construction time frame.
Source: Coastal Review online