SURF CITY | Work on the new $54 million high-rise bridge in Surf City that will replace the Pender County beach town’s beloved swing bridge is well underway en route to a scheduled September 2019 completion date.
The new bridge will be 3,600 feet long and, at its apex, 65 feet high. It also will have its own sweeping look, but will certainly remind folks of the relatively new bridges linking Holden Beach and Sunset Beach to the Brunswick County mainland.
Traffic will be controlled by roundabouts, which are still relatively rare in North Carolina, at each end and crews are building temporary work bridges out from both sides of the Intracoastal Waterway to help with construction and to limit the project’s environmental impacts.
But those aren’t the only interesting tidbits around Southeastern North Carolina’s newest bridge:
Perhaps the most unique feature of the bridge is a wide bicycle and pedestrian lane across its span, a lane wide enough to serve standard vehicles in the event of a mass evacuation of Topsail Island, according to W. Jay Boyd, operations manager with Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc., the Atlanta-based firm building the new span.
Boyd said one of the most challenging aspects of the project is the restriction placed on working in the water from April to October.
“That’s why you see our crews working so much overtime right now; we have to get everything that is in the water installed this fiscal year by April 1, or else we lose a lot of time,” he said.
No time to lose
Along with the water restrictions, Balfour is racing the clock to get the project done by September 2019, one of the reasons there’s been so much activity around the worksite so soon after ground was broken. The bridge design also was being tweaked literally right up until the last minute.
“This job really has been designed and let (for bid) much quicker than typical DOT jobs,” Boyd said. “We normally see design stamps (approvals) that are two or three or four years old. This one had stamps from March and April and May of 2016. It is a very aggressive schedule from DOT, to go from design to bid so quickly.”
The bridge’s sweeping curve reflects both the challenge of rising the span to 65 feet above the Intracoastal Waterway without making the inclines too severe and Surf City’s desire to protect a nearby public park.
Boyd added that there should be virtually no disruption of traffic during construction, with the possible exception of some minor detours next winter.