The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has shut down Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks this week due to emergency safety concerns. The life safety issues were discovered after routine sonar scanning identified excessive scouring (i.e., sand erosion) on the support structures of the bridge.
The bridge, erected in 1963, is the only road over Oregon Inlet, so the NCDOT is providing extended ferry service during the bridge repairs, which could take as long as 90 days.
The Bonner Bridge has been slated for replacement for several years following damage from Hurricane Irene, but legal challenges from environmental groups as to the location of the replacement have prevented DOT from breaking ground on a $215.8 million repair contract.
As of midday on Friday, December 6th, NCDOT engineers report the following:
· The dredge is on location and the anchors are set.
· The crew has been developing ideas on alternate discharge pattern/configurations etc.
· The Army Corps of Engineers 404 & DENR Water Quality Permits are issued.
· Permit modification for enlarged discharge area to allow flexibility in using the tides & attack angles to assist in filling scour holes has just been issued.
To read the positions and concerns of the environmental groups related to the bridge replacement, go to the Southern Environmental Law Center’s webpage.
Your turn: Now that the bridge is back in the news, what is your opinion as to where the replacement bridge should be located? Do the environmental groups’ contentions have merit? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo (c) Smkybear.