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November 30, 2013

Oregon Inlet bridge needs quick repair but is safe for now, NCDOT says

Inspections reveal erosion around Outer Banks bridge supports. NCDOT prepares for possible use of an emergency ferry from the mainland to Hatteras Island.

The 50-year-old Bonner Bridge on the Outer Banks needs a quick repair but is safe for now, the state Department of Transportation said Saturday, and preparations are being made for an emergency ferry that would go into action if the N.C.12 bridge has to be closed.

Sonar inspections revealed last week that the turbulent waters of Oregon Inlet have scoured out the sand around the base of supports at the southern section of the bridge. DOT said it had begun steps to hire a contractor to make the needed repairs soon.

“NCDOT engineers will closely monitor the bridge and conduct weekly scans to ensure it remains safe for travel until the structure can be fortified,” a DOT news release said. Should safety ever become a concern it would be closed to traffic.

The bridge connects the seven villages of Hatteras Island to the mainland. If the bridge has to be closed, DOT said, it will start up its emergency ferry – sometimes put into use when ocean storms breach N.C.12 – from Stumpy Point on the Dare County mainland to Rodanthe on Hatteras Island.

Legal challenges have prevented DOT from breaking ground on a $215.8 million contract to replace Bonner Bridge with a new 2.8-mile bridge across Oregon Inlet.

The section of the bridge under concern is near an area that was recently repaired, a DOT spokesman said Saturday.

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