Wright Memorial Bridge rehab work continues below the deck

By on July 15, 2018

Hydra platforms help crews reach the bents below. (Sam Walker)

A $21 million project to renovate the eastbound span of the Wright Memorial Bridge continues to progress, mostly out of the sight of motorists driving from Point Harbor to Kitty Hawk.

But there is still substantial being done to the 52-year-old span carrying U.S. 158 over the Currituck Sound since it reopened to traffic in May. It had been closed for nearly eight months and traffic both ways shared the westbound span.

So that workers can refirbish support structures underneath the bridge, one lane on the eastbound side has been closed Monday through Thursday during the summer.

The single-lane closure will go back into place seven-days-a-week after Labor Day weekend and remain until the project is completed.

That’s so construction equipment and materials can be staged where work is taking place on each of the bents, which are the collection of pilings and caps that support the bridge, according to N.C. Department of Transportation spokesperson Tim Hass.

Hass said concrete and gunite is being pumped to workers on barges below the bridge, and painters are using hydra platforms to reach the bearings on each bent.

The project is ahead of schedule, but Flatiron Construction does have until Nov. 1, 2019 to complete all work, Hass said.

The work completed this spring involved placing a new overlay material on the concrete deck, and replacement and sealing of expansion joints between each slab.

Also replaced was a section of concrete slab added in 1995 where steel grates were once located to the east of the navigation span.

Cathodic jackets installed around the pilings. The bearings where the girders attach to the cap are being painted. (Sam Walker)

Cathodic jackets are being placed around many of the pilings that support the bridge. The jackets are designed to protect the steel inside the pilings from salt water corrosion and extend their life.

The caps on the bents have also been refurbished. The bearings on top are where the girders supporting the road deck attach to the bents.

Traffic has been reduced to one lane in each direction of the Wright Memorial Bridge for three of the last four off-seasons.

In 2015 and 2016, the westbound span was closed for a full resurfacing to correct a design flaw when it was built in 1994 that caused vehicles to bounce as they made the 3-mile trip from Kitty Hawk to Point Harbor.

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  • Runnerguy45

    Sam, wasn’t it previously announced that the job was complete ?
    Now we hear the work will go on till November 2019 ?

    Monday, Jul 16 @ 8:21 am
  • Sam Walker

    Good point…at the time, NCDOT was referencing the work to the road deck that required the full closure was completed. Issue of semantics in the May announcement. The contract was always to Nov. 1, 2019 because of the work being done to the bents. They have a lot of work to do from what I could see during a boat trip underneath in May, and even noticed last night as I was driving west that one of the piling caps that is being significantly repaired. They are moving west to east, so a lot of work to be done, but they are ahead of schedule.

    Monday, Jul 16 @ 6:37 pm
  • Lee

    There is no doubt in my mind that all of this work can be done from the water. Guess it’s about the money.

    Tuesday, Jul 17 @ 5:52 pm
  • John

    That’s great and i am sure it is all needed…..now if they could just find some $$$ to repave US158 from all the damage done this past winter. It is horrible and unsafe with all the loose debris.

    Wednesday, Jul 18 @ 5:49 am