Placing a piling at the Jung Handle Bridge. The 155’ piling rests beneath the blue girder.

Placing a piling at the Jung Handle Bridge. The 155’ piling rests beneath the blue girder.

Driving south along NC 12 on Pea Island the Jug Handle Bridge rises out of the mist like some futuristic construction project.

Riding on rails that parallel what will be the bridge, cranes sit atop 60’ gantries the tower above the landscape. 

The bridge is being built from the north which, which is in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Rodanthe to the south. There has been more progress made from the south, and there’s a good reason for that—a reason that highlights what happens when any part of the project stumbles.

Jug Handle Problem

In early December inspectors found the pilings, the massive hollow concrete pilings that will support the bridge, were developing minute cracks.

The problem has been solved, but the problems were found at the north end of the Jug Handle. One of the pilings had to be taken out and deliveries were slowed as the problem was corrected. As result the north end fell behind. 

In talking to project managers, there is considerable but healthy competition to not fall behind in any aspect of the work. Consequently there is confidence that both sides will end up where they’re supposed to be.

If everything holds to schedule, the bridge will be completed sometime in Spring of 2021. Weather, however, is the bigger storm concern.

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