State Department of Transportation officials hope to award a contract by midweek for urgent repairs to the 50-year-old Bonner Bridge that carries N.C. 12 over Oregon Inlet.
The contractor will bring crews, machinery and materials to the Outer Banks site and is expected to start work in a few weeks, to be completed within 90 days, DOT spokesman Mike Charbonneau said by email.
Recent inspections revealed that the turbulent inlet waters are scouring away the sand at the base of bridge supports. Of the 10 piles that support one bent or pier toward the south end of the bridge, nine are below the critical scour depth which triggers our detailed monitoring, Charbonneau said.
The bridge links Hatteras Island and its seven villages to the Dare County mainland. DOT inspectors say the bridge is still safe for traffic, but if it must be closed they will launch emergency ferry service.
The scouring is part of the inlets natural southward migration. DOT spent $1.8 million a year ago for scour protection repairs on the bridge, in an area close to the bent that recently was found to be undermined by new scouring. The repair crews placed rock-filled baskets on the bottom of the inlet between the bridge supports, and putting sandbags around the pilings.
DOT is posting bridge updates on its N.C. 12 Facebook page.