Age of a Bridge

People were stranded. Fingers are pointing.

Imagine if the only road across the Hudson River was closed due to safety concerns — indefinitely. Last week, the North Carolina DOT closed Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on N.C. 12 over the Oregon Inlet, the only highway connection between Hatteras Island and mainland NC.

road closed at bridge

Emergency ferry routes began immediately; the state DOT declared a state of emergency to speed the repair process and secure federal funds. No time frame has been set for completion, or for how long the bridge will be closed.

A mere 50 years old, the 2.5-mile Bonner Bridge handles 5,200 cars and trucks daily, and incurred more than $56 million in repairs and maintenance, per the state DOT. Our bridge carries a whopping 134,000 vehicles daily, and incurred nearly $1 billion in repair work.

A July 2013 report listed the Bonner Bridge as structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, and way past its prime (lifespan was 30 years). Too much sand eroded away from its supports, per inspections. Let the lawsuits continue.

The NCDOT had awarded a contract to a design-build team in 2011 to replace the bridge; however lawsuits filed by environmental groups intervened and held up the project, originally scheduled to begin earlier this year.

“In the last 20 years, the Tappan Zee Bridge has shown significant deterioration,” the Federal Highway Administration said in September 2012.

We know, and we’re doing something now to maintain a safe crossing. To boot, we’ve been assured there will always be a bridge between South Nyack and Tarrytown as the new one is constructed, and the current one is dismantled.

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

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