Project updates include Alligator bridge closing

By on February 1, 2013

Hobbs was the Chamber's keynote speaker.

Hobbs was the Chamber’s keynote speaker.

Barry Hobbs, project manager for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, provided updates on numerous regional highway projects Thursday, including one that will close the Alligator River Bridge for about two weeks.

Hobbs was the keynote speaker at a luncheon hosted by The Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce.

After his presentation, Hobbs took questions from the audience.

Of particular note, Hobbs verified that the Alligator River Bridge is scheduled for closing from April 2-14 while a mechanical part in the draw span is replaced. The bridge carries U.S. 64, which is the most direct route from the west to the Outer Banks.

NCDOT determined a temporary ferry service could not be used while the span is closed, so east and westbound traffic will need to take the more circuitous routes leading to U.S. 158 in the north and traversing Pasquotank, Camden and Currituck counties.

Hobbs also said the dredge working the channel between Hatteras and Ocracoke Island had moved 76,000 cubic yards of sand and was “making progress” toward reopening the vital ferry route linking the two islands.

In response to a question, Hobbs said to his knowledge, the Army Corps still had plans to deploy a dredge to move some sand from the ocean off Rodanthe to replenish the beach at the troubled S-Curves just north of the village.

Other solutions, such as placing sandbags weighing several tons along the route have failed, and using hardened structures similar to those protecting the temporary bridge at the new Pea Island inlet are prohibited by state law.

Possible solutions may include constructing a bridge in the same place as the current road north of Mirlo Beach or building a bridge further to the west in Pamlico Sound waters.

An animated look at construction of a new Oregon Inlet bridge. (NCDOT, HDR Engineering Inc.)

Meanwhile, test pilings have been sunk for a replacement to the Bonner Bridge. They will soon undergo vertical and lateral stress tests similar to the same pressures the actual span will experience.

The NCDOT schedule shows a spring 2013 start date for actual construction of the span with completion by February 2016.

However, environmental groups have challenged the process used by NCDOT to choose the so-called “short bridge” route and Hobbs could not be certain of the actual start date, noting “it’s in the hands of the judge” at present.

The new bridge will feature nine navigation spans if and when it is built, which should allow vessels to find deep water much easier in shoaling events and reduce the amount of dredging currently required to keep Oregon Inlet navigable for larger boats.

NCDOT plans to begin replacing the temporary bridge at Pea Island with a permanent structure in the spring of 2013.

The schedule for U.S. 64 widening from Columbia east to Manns Harbor is slated to begin in 2016 and be completed by 2018, including replacement of the Alligator River Bridge in 2016.

Colington Road widening to 30-32 feet in to accommodate pedestrian and bicycle traffic will see acquisition of right of way’s in 2015 and construction in 2017.

In the interim, the hairpin curve in front of the Methodist church on Colington Road will be relocated in 2013.

Significant questions were directed to Hobbs concerning the “Mid-County” bridge in Currituck, which would connect mainland Currituck in Aydlett with Corolla on the Outer Banks.

The bridge, a public-private sector joint venture that will feature a toll road, is awaiting a record of decision, the final environmental sign-off required before contracts can be put to bid.

Even if the “ROD” is approved, construction of the bridge would require significant upfront funding from the state and the current Republican-controlled legislature has thus far been cool to the idea of pumping any money into the project.

Hobbs also noted that virtually every project slated for future construction could face legal challenges and other hurdles from environmental groups and federal agencies.

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Lori Keck

February 5, 2013 11:36 am

Ok once again road work is scheduled to shut something down at the worse possible time…Shut Alligator Bridge down during the beginning of the season….yes it is …Easter is very Early this year and my experience in retail has seen how the visitors come starting around then….April will be right in the middle of a precious start and people will be unsure of whether it is open after that….


February 3, 2013 9:33 pm

Not only that its a travel weekend. The boats start heading north. The marina will be losing a lot of business along with folks that travel for work and school, and high school games. Hope that they fix it fast.


February 3, 2013 8:51 am

obxlocal, them folks in rally don’t want to work in cold of Feb (orig date) they will stay on west side so they can go to beach. The heck with everyone else!


February 2, 2013 11:14 pm

Now why would they close the Alligator River bridge on Easter weekend when that is a BIG travel weekend and spring break for many? Will hurt the economy for us that depend on it! BAD timing.


February 2, 2013 10:51 am

Glad their starting the new bridge!Lots of work for those who dont have any, Lets kick it!


February 2, 2013 10:00 am

McCrory is more concerned with giving his hometown Panther Stadium a 250 million dollar facelift. Lets see how the new Republican Raleigh handles this one…BRING THE NEW BRIDGE NOW!!!


February 2, 2013 9:47 am

Original time frame was Feb for the Alligator River bridge. I so hope that there aren’t any complications. It’s going to be a huge mess and expense for many. I read a while back that there was no one that has done this repair before. I bet you that if DOT could have figured out a ferry service that the eviowhackos would have sued them 20 different ways. Hope it goes quickly and easily.

Bob Samuels

February 2, 2013 9:25 am

Hopefully, 70 mph between Columbia & Manns Harbor – no more speeding tix for me!

Colleen S

February 2, 2013 7:14 am

We all know that hardened structures are prohibited in NC; so why didn’t Mr. Hobbs say how were they permitted to protect the temporary bridge?

Rob Morris

February 1, 2013 9:39 pm

Here some information on Colington Road from an earlier story.


February 1, 2013 8:57 pm

Thanks for the great information. I am just wondering where they are going to move the Colington curve to?


February 1, 2013 4:34 pm

Good info & well written. Great article Russ, thanks.

Rebekah Johnson

February 1, 2013 2:33 pm

North Carolina resident would like to keep updated as to the project and its advancement toward these improvements of the bridges in NC.

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