Suddenly the new Oregon Inlet bridge is open. No announcement, no huge fanfare, just a quick notice press release from NCDOT with a headline reading: “New Bridge Over Oregon Inlet Opens to Traffic” on Monday.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter. Sure there is an official ribbon cutting scheduled for April 2, but that will probably be a bit anticlimactic. The truth is, crossing that new bridge, with it’s wider lanes and 8’ shoulders designed for bicyclists, well that’s a thrill in itself.
It has been long time coming. The original Bonner Bridge was only supposed to have a 30 year lifespan. But 1993 came and went. Then 2003 and 2013 and still the bridge was there—aging and not always gracefully.
We had a chance to walk across the new bridge a couple of weeks ago, and looking down on the Bonner Bridge the pitting of the concrete cause by the power of salt driven winds was apparent.
And then there was the time a couple of years ago that divers discovered the force of the current through Oregon Inlet and scoured the sand and dirt completely away from some of the pilings supporting the bridge. In short, the pilings were attached to nothing but water.
Unlike the Bonner Bridge, this span is designed with a 100 year lifespan in mind. New materials that were not available in 1963 were used. Building techniques and engineering concepts unheard of 56 tears ago were integrated into the design.
And they’re not taking any chances not eh piling floating free. The pilings supporting the main spans were driven 100’ into the sand and mud beneath Oregon Inlet’s waters.
Over time, crossing the bridge will, of course, become mundane, something we do everyday. But for right now? Wow, is it exciting.
Lots of great events are coming up in March. Come stay with Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates for a while.