Sometimes good news comes from surprising places. Seems the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet has already reopened. On December 3 NCDOT closed the bridge after an underwater inspection revealed severe scouring of the sand that holds the pilings that support the span in place.
No one was sure how long the repairs were going to take but estimates ranged all the way out to 90 days. Shows how wrong the experts can be.
There was a bit of serendipity in getting things done so quickly. Jerry Jennings, NCDOT Division Engineer for northeast North Carolina, noted that there was an ongoing dredging operation in the inlet when the closure happened and the Great Lakes Dredging Company was able to refocus where the dredge spoils were going quickly. Dredge spoils in this case is another name for sand.
With ready source of fill for the scoured pilings, sand levels were brought significantly above the safe range very quickly, according to Jennings.
There is still ongoing work to stabilize the sand that has been added to the structure.
This is great news for our neighbors to the south on Hatteras Island who were held hostage to a ferry schedule that was the very best option that anyone had. It also means day trips to Hatteras for our visitors staying in Corolla or Duck–or any place on the northern Outer Banks–are a possibility again.