The last connecting girder is put in place on the new Bonner Bridge.
The final connecting girder was just put in place on the replacement span for the Bonner Bridge. That means the project is really…finally… in the final stages. If all goes as NCDOT hopes it will—and to their credit it has for the most part—the new bridge will be open for traffic sometime in December.
Driving by the new bridge on the original Bonner Bridge the size of the replacement span comes home. It is huge, towering over the original bridge by 20’, but it’s not just the great height that dwarfs the original road.
The new bridge has seven navigation spans, each one wider than the single navigation span of the Bonner Bridge. As a consequence the new bridge is almost half a mile longer.
With stateless steel rebar, pounding many of the pilings up to 100’ beneath the bottom of the seabed and other building techniques and materials not available when the original Bonner Bridge was built in 1963, the new bridge has an expected lifespan of 100 years.
After opening the bridge to traffic, there is some additional work to do to complete the project—primarily demolishing the old bridge.
About 1000’ feet on the Hatteras Island side will be kept as a fishing pier. The remainder of the old bridge will be cleaned and taken out to sea to create a fishing reefs.
The Bonner Bridge is the most visible—and arguably important—part of the project, but NCDOT views the entire road from Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe as a project area.
The next bridge that will be built is the “Jug Handle” that will bypass the S Curves north of Rodanthe. the road will curve west into Pamlico Sound and reconnect with NC12 next to the Island Convenience Store.
The project is expected to be completed in fall of 2020.