Shoaling of the ocean bar off Oregon Inlet and around the navigation span of the remains of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge has slowed the demolition project.
And conversion of the southern end of the six decades old span into a public fishing pier has also been delayed, and it will not be opening until this fall at the earliest.
N.C. Department of Transportation spokesperson Tim Hass said the persistent shallow water outside the inlet was at its worst between December and February.
Each section of the old bridge deck is cut in half. Then the supports are dismantled and removed from the bottom. The concrete is then loaded onto barges for transport to several existing offshore reefs for disposal.
Hass said the barges had to be rerouted up the Intracoastal Waterway, then through the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and back down the Atlantic Ocean to reach the reef locations.
“Along with the longer routes, the weather impacted when the barges could be deployed to the reef sites as well as traveling up and down the Intracoastal Waterway,” Hass said.
“The Corps of Engineers dredging in late February has improved conditions at the ocean bar such that barges can now be deployed to the reefs through the inlet,” Hass said.
Hass said back in January contractors also found underwater obstructions around the old bridge that has slowed removal of pilings.
Demolition of the high rise portion of the old bridge has been stalled by shallow water around the area of the old navigation span at the end of Bodie Island Spit.
On the north end of Pea Island, about 1,000 feet of the old bridge remains to be converted into a public walkway and fishing pier that is expected to open sometime this year.
Because that section of the old bridge is still being used as a staging area for the demolition, Hass said it can’t be opened until the tear down is complete which could be late-fall at the earliest.