Reprinted from Island Free Press
The Rodanthe “jug handle” bridge will open in mid-May at the earliest due to damage to one of the bridge’s expansion joints, per a recent update from North Carolina Department of Transportation Communications Officer Tim Hass.
The damaged joint is located on the northern end of the bridge, and is one of 26 expansion joints on the 2.4-mile long structure. Expansion joints allow the concrete to naturally expand and contract without cracking during the bridge’s estimated 100-year lifespan.
“(The) component for one of the bridge’s expansion joints needs to be replaced, and it won’t be delivered and installed before then,” stated Hass. “However, the delay does allow us to get some other punch list items out of the way, and gives (Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative) a few extra weeks to get further along with the work they’re doing on the electric/phone/internet lines.”
“It’s looking like the opening date won’t be any earlier than mid-May at this point.”
The grooving and grinding work on the bridge’s surface is complete, and some of the items the construction crews are tackling include sealing the concrete, removing some of the blemishes, what engineers call “point and patch” or “fluff and buff,” filling some of the holes where scaffolding was attached to the bridge, and erecting traffic signs on the bridge and the entrance/exit ramps.
Once complete, the bridge will connect the southern portion of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to northern Rodanthe, bypassing the S-turns section of N.C. 12, which is highly susceptible to breaches and ocean overwash during storms.
“The bridge and the ramps are pretty much ready, and if a disaster were to befall the S-Curves in the next few weeks, we could move traffic onto it if we had to,” stated Hass. “But it will be much, much easier to install the new expansion joint without traffic (on the bridge).”
The bridge is considered part of Phase II of the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project, and is the final bridge of the three new bridges on Hatteras Island to be built. The Capt. Richard Etheridge Bridge on Pea Island was completed in the spring of 2018, and the Bonner Bridge replacement was completed in 2019.
More information on the bridge project, which includes project history, maps, documents and videos, can be found at https://www.ncdot.gov/projects/nc-12-rodanthe/Pages/default.aspx.
This story is provided courtesy of the Island Free Press, a digital newspaper covering Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Coastal Review is partnering with the Free Press to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest along our coast.