Westbound Wright Memorial span reopens for the season

By on May 13, 2014

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Work will resume in the fall. (Sam Walker)

Crews put the finishing touches — though temporary ones — on the westbound Wright Memorial Bridge span in time to reopen it to traffic this morning, a day earlier than expected.

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

Two-thirds of the bridge that carries U.S. 158 west between Kitty Hawk and Point Harbor has been completed.

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Worse-than-expected weather this past winter led to the resurfacing project not being finished as originally planned. The bridge will close again sometime after Labor Day so that the $6.3 million project can be completed.

Under the contract, crews will have until May 15, 2015, to finish work on the remaining one-third of the bridge.

Work involving the latex-modified concrete overlay could only be done when temperatures were between 50 and 85 degrees, surface temperatures were between 40 and 85 degrees and wind speeds were no more than 10 mph, according to the NCDOT.

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 a bouncy ride over the bridge.

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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.

Some of the first drivers traveling the bridge Wednesday called into the “Moose and Jody In The Morning” show on Beach 104 and said the bounce was much less noticeable than before the work started.

There is an area of the Wright Bridge roadway just west of the navigation span that was very rough, because crews were unable to apply the new surface before the deadline to reopen the bridge for the summer.

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With only one lane in each direction available on the normally eastbound span, traffic delays developed during several weekends in April due to disabled vehicles, accidents and high vehicle volume.

Traffic backups plagued the first two weekends after the span closed in the fall.

Eastbound traffic will still be reduced to one lane on Wednesday, as crews work to repaint lines and remove traffic control devices.


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