Wright Bridge repaving project will not be finished by spring

By on February 28, 2014

repave

Work on the bridge continued today. (Sam Walker)

Thanks to this winter’s brutal weather, the westbound Wright Memorial Bridge resurfacing project will not be finished this spring as originially planned.

“I do not believe there is any scenario that the contractor will complete the entire bridge before Memorial Day,” John Able, Jr., N.C. Department of Transportation Division 1 bridge project engineer, said in an e-mail Thursday.

The bridge will reopen to traffic for the summer, then close again sometime after Labor Day so that the $6.3 million project can be completed.

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Since late September, G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc. of York, Pa. has been using a special process to grind down the original bridge deck and place a layer of latex-modfied concrete on the road surface.

Over half of the bridge that carries U.S. 158 west between Kitty Hawk and Point Harbor has been completed or at least undergone the grinding process.

“The progress this winter has been slowed due to the weather this year,” Abel said. “The contractor has re-mobilized to the site and hopefully with good weather will complete what he has milled to date.”

Abel did not say if the contractor will be fined for not being able to finish before Memorial Day weekend.

Under the original contract, the NCDOT would levy an at least $1,000 a day for each day the bridge remained closed after May 23.

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When the westbound bridge was built in 1995, the supports of the deck did not bend as expected after the concrete road deck was poured on top.

The road deck between each bent, which is the combination of pilings that supports the bridge, had a more pronounced “hump” causing the bouncy ride over the bridge.

A similar issue developed on other bridges built around the same time in the region, including the Washington Baum Bridge over Roanoke Sound, but not to the severity as on the Wright Memorial Bridge.

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Conditions need to be just right before crews can work with the latex-modified concrete, according to the original NCDOT statement on the project. Air temperatures must be between 50 and 85 degrees with surface temperatures between 40 and 85 degrees. Wind speeds can be no more than 10 mph.

Joint seals are also being replaced, which allows the bridge to expand and contract with the weather.

Crews can be seen working under greenhouse-like structures on the bridge at the gap between each section of road deck.

The westbound bridge was closed to traffic Sept. 17, reducing travel to one lane in each direction on the original bridge that opened in the 1960s.

Traffic back-ups similar to a summer weekend were a problem the first two Saturdays after the closing, and have cropped up several times due to disabled vehicles, crashes and the weather.

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