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FIRST ON 3: Oak Island Bridge opening delayed another month


RALEIGH — Opening of the new bridge to Oak Island will be delayed about 30 days because of the unique construction features of the bridge and excessive heat this summer. The bridge, recently scheduled to open to traffic by the end of September, is now anticipated to open to traffic by the end of October.

“We appreciate that residents and visitors have been waiting patiently for the second bridge into Oak Island to open; however, we will not sacrifice safety for speed,” said Division 3 Engineer Allen Pope.

This month, crews are focusing on casting the concrete deck riding surface, which contains more than 2,500 cubic yards of concrete. The equivalent to more than 200 truck loads. Casting the deck includes the following steps:

· Dividing the 2,500 cubic yards of concrete among 11 separate concrete pours.

· Each pour is required to gain strength before the next pour can begin.

· Between pours, crews work on placing wood forms and reinforcing steel on the deck in preparation for the next pour.

· Five pours remain on the concrete deck riding surface at this time.

· Crews are scheduled to finish pours by mid September.

Once the concrete pours are complete, crews have approximately three weeks to complete post tension work and pour the concrete barrier rail before traffic can use the bridge. Once traffic is on the bridge, there will still be 30-45 days of work remaining.

The Oak Island Bridge is one of only three in North Carolina constructed using continuous span spliced girders. These girders have three spans that run continuously and do not have open deck joints. Cable runs through the three spans, pulling them together to create a continuous span. The other bridges include the Sunset Beach Bridge, which is still under construction, and the Virginia Dare Bridge. Temperatures also affect the time concrete can be placed and can affect the overall production of crews.

The contractor will report progress to the department weekly and NCDOT will continue to keep the public informed if any changes occur as the bridge is completed.

The department is currently withholding $5,000 a day in fines for every day that the project is behind schedule.

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