Bonner Bridge demo, conversion of south landing to fishing pier nearing final stages

Access to the Bonner Bridge "catwalks" has been closed since fall 2018 when the Basnight Bridge was nearing completion. [Sam Walker photo]

The demolition of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet along with conversion of the southern landing to a fishing pier is finally entering its final stages.

N.C. Department of Transportation spokesperson Tim Hass said Friday the demo project is approximately 95 percent complete.

PCL Constructors was awarded the contract to build the Marc Basnight Bridge that opened to traffic two years ago this month, and the removal of the Bonner Bridge.

Demolition was expected to take only a few months, but the treacherous-nature of the inlet itself that threatened to bring down the Bonner Bridge at times led to delays that have stretched the demo work across two years.

Constant shoaling prevented barges from crossing the inlet bar with the remains of the bridge, which were destined for artificial reefs off Pea Island.

Shallow water around the old navigation area also delayed work on the highest sections of the bridge built six decades ago. The concrete and steel section is all that remains standing in the middle of the inlet.

Workers started dismantling the old navigation span this past week. [Sam Walker photo]
“PCL started removing the concrete bridge deck in 10-foot sections from the three spans of the old high rise,” Hass said. “This will facilitate removing the steel girders and subsequently the concrete substructure.”

Contractors are also still removing removing the pilings that the large concrete supports sat upon on both the north and side of the navigation span area.

“Overall we are targeting mid-to-late April to be complete with the bridge demolition,” Hass said.

The catwalks on the side of the bridge are gone, and fisherman will now stand along a rail that will be mounted to the curb along the old road deck. [Sam Walker photo]
On the north end of Pea Island, about 1,000 feet of the old bridge was left intact for conversion into public walkway and fishing pier.

That section of the old bridge has been used as a staging area for the overall demolition up until a couple of months ago, and now it is being prepped for its new purpose.

“The repairs to the deck of the remnant portion of the bridge that will become the pier were completed at the end of January, and the underside concrete repairs were completed last fall,” Hass said. “A few spans of the old catwalk are still in place and will be removed later this winter or early spring.”

Hass said a new pedestrian railing will be attached to the pier deck, and is currently being fabricated ahead of shipping to Oregon Inlet next month.

“The railing will take six-to-eight weeks to install,” Hass said. “We anticipate the roadway subcontractor to return in May to remove asphalt, build the pathway to the pier, site cleanup and stabilization, etc. such that the pier could open to the public sometime this summer.”

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Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3. Reach him at swalker3@jammediallc.com