Island Free Press: Jug Handle Bridge 88 percent complete; opening in early 2022

By Joy Crist, IslandFreePress.org
The Jug Handle Bridge is 88% complete as of September 2, with a projected opening date of early 2022, per an update from the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) resident engineer for the project, Pablo Hernandez.

As of September 2, 356 of 388 concrete girders have been set, and 104 out of 108 bents have also been installed, which is the equivalent of 342 out of 352 pilings. In addition, 94 out of 107 deck spans have been cast.

The southern end of bridge operations have stopped as of August 14, and the two work trestles met as of August 31, 2021.

The south trestle gantries and platforms in the village of Rodanthe are currently being dismantled and trucked away from the construction site, and the southern cranes are next in line to be demolished, along with the components that made up the south trestle construction system.

Bridge activities continue on the north end, however, and pile driving on the northern end of the bridge project still has its challenges. Current techniques to help ease the piling installation, (which includes augering the soil inside the cylinder pile), continue to show positive results.

At this time, the anticipated pile driving at the north end of the bridge could be complete by the end of September.

Roadway work at the south end of the project should resume in October or November of 2021, and travelers along N.C. Highway 12 should expect lane closures or other work zone traffic control delays.

The bridge is currently projected to be complete by early 2022, with traffic shifting onto the struicture in February or March.

The Jug Handle 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 Captain Richard Etheridge Bridge on Pea Island was completed in the spring of 2018, and the Bonner Bridge replacement was completed in the spring of 2019.)

Once complete, the Jug Handle Bridge will connect the southern portion of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to northern Rodanthe, bypassing the S-Turns section of N.C. Highway 12, which is highly susceptible to breaches and ocean overwash during storms.

Updates on the status of the Jug Handle Bridge, as well as planned construction activities in the coming month, are available online at https://www.ncdot.gov/projects/nc-12-rodanthe/Pages/planned-construction.aspx.

In addition, 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.

The next update meeting will be December 2, and if all goes well, the meeting may be held both online and in-person in Rodanthe.