Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

NC Bridge Removal Hits Delay, Costs

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Comment | More

The continued dismantling and demolition of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, located in the Oregon Inlet of North Carolina, is now project to take about a year longer than expected.

And along with the increased timeline comes an increased price tag.

The Replacement

Built in 1963, the bridge has served thousands of vehicles over nearly six decades, suffered boat and barge collisions and battled harsh ocean elements and intense currents that, at times, almost caused it to lose its footing.

The replacement project (later known as the Marc Basnight Bridge) approval was first announced in August 2015, after various legal obstacles from environmental groups halted construction. At the time, the project was reported to begin in the spring of 2016.

During building efforts in 2017, crews working on the new Herbert C. Bonner Bridge drove a steel casing into the three underground transmission cables that bring power to Hattteras and Ocracoke Islands, causing damage to two of the three cables, according to the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative. Because of the incident, more than 7,600 homes and businesses were affected, according to The Virginian-Pilot.

North Carolina Department of Transportation

The replacement project (later known as the Marc Basnight Bridge, pictured) approval was first announced in August 2015, after various legal obstacles from environmental groups halted construction. At the time, the project was reported to begin in the spring of 2016.

Only a few days after the incident, the contractor responsible was sued by residents in a court action filed before power even returned in many communities.

By May 2018, the firm responsible for the power outage incident, PCL Construction (Denver), reached a $10.3 million settlement with local businesses and residents. Breaking the agreement down, the firm will pay $8.1 million to businesses and $2.25 million to residents and renters in the area affected by widespread blackouts and evacuations that lasted nearly a week after the outage.

The settlement was ordered by U.S. District Court Judge James C. Dever III.

To reach maximum efficiency, the bridge was divided into five regions and consisted of three or four 54-inch diameter vertical concrete cylinder piles, transition and long navigational spans that used a combination of cast-in-place reinforced concrete pile caps with six to 30, 36-inch square concrete piles in a battered configuration to further resist wind and ship impacts.

In total, work on the project, which opened to traffic in February 2019, used 690 piles measuring over 15 miles in length combined.

Most recently, in June of this year, Deep Foundations Institute (Hawthorne, New Jersey) announced the $252 million, 2.8-mile Marc Basnight Bridge was the recipient of its 2019 DFI Outstanding Project Award.

The Basnight Bridge team consisted of engineering company HDR, general and foundation contractor PCL Civil Constructors, and owners the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The new bridge is expected to have a 100-year service life.

The Demolition

Deconstruction began in April 2019 and the North Carolina Department of Transportation has to extract 1,619 piles and remove 187 spans. In total, 70,000 tons of debris is expected to be removed and unloaded offshore where portions will be used at four different existing artificial reefs.

In order to remove these piles and spans—some piles reaching 6 feet in diameter and 130 feet long—the crews are using a special machine with a 6-foot saw blade to make an initial gap. The endeavor is also implementing a hydraulic-powered blade.

According to officials, the hydraulic-powered machine doesn’t actually spin the blade, nor does it have teeth like a saw. Instead, the machine pushes through concrete and steel, similar to a slow-moving, horizontal guillotine. The technique is reportedly safer for the high areas over the water.

Once a section is cut free from the bridge, a crane outfitted with a giant fork then removes the concrete portion and places it on a barge for offshore hauling. This is allegedly the toughest part of the dismantling process, as large hoses are also used to jet water into the bottom and around the columns to remove sand, while the large cranes gradually lift them.

After dismantling, loads of debris are loaded onto barges for tugboats that are supposed to go through the 10 miles of Oregon Inlet to one of the four reefs. However, this part of the plan is hitting its own snag.

What’s Happening

The constant shoaling of the inlet has reportedly made the passage too shallow for tugboats, despite efforts to dredge it.

Instead, the barges now have to take other, longer routes, culminating in about 500 extra miles each trip, to haul the debris. These longer routes are adding months and bout $5 million to the project, which was initially expected to cost $900,000.

Since demolition began, 44 loads have gone to the reefs out of an estimate 75 loads that should complete the project. For the first six months, the barges were able to take the Inlet, completing about 27 loads on the original route.

The demolition contract calls for the degree to go to the Inlet, as the reefs can be an economic driver for the fishing industry. However, the state department has requested a change to the demolition permit that would allow the barges to unload at different reef sites.

Local fishing organizations and local commissioners oppose the change, however, despite the cost increase.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Bridges; Demolition; Infrastructure; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Ongoing projects

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

Axxiom Manufacturing


HoldTight Solutions Inc.

KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office

Abrasives Inc.


Tarps manufacturing, Inc.

Sauereisen, Inc.


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us