Bridge could soon see emergency repairs

Bridge to Harkers Island in need of repair

HARKERS ISLAND - Update: The only road to Harkers Island could soon see closures.

The bridge could be close 26 times to replace 26 concrete slabs.

Each closure would last from 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

A temporary wooden bridge was set up in early October to allow vehicles more than 25 tons to cross the bridge. Since then the traffic has been reduced to one lane.

People who use the bridge everyday are anxious to see it fixed.

"When they were working on it, me and my mom and my brother would go looking at it. It did look pretty bad at the time," Chris Miller said.

Miller co-owns a kayak rental and bait shop on the north side of the bridge.

On October the 4th, the NCDOT identified portions of the bridge that needed immediate repair. The DOT will draft a new contract to build the bridge in November. Work should start in February.

Previous Story: North Carolina Department of Transportation officials say that Harkers Island bridge is in worse condition than first thought. On Wednesday, NCDOT engineers determined that only passenger vehicles can safely cross for at least two weeks.

That means school buses, emergency service vehicles, and delivery trucks cannot get on and off the island for now, according to NCDOT's Jeremy Stroud. 

That's a problem for residents and business owners. 

"They're frantic, they're really frantic," said Mila Guthrie, owner of Seaside Galley in Harkers Island.

Guthrie, who has operated the restaurant since the 1980s, doesn't want the bridge repair work to impact her customers.

"It's going to be hard for us to get supplies," Guthrie said.  "And our gas, it's going to be very difficult for us to get it."

According to Stroud, contractors began doing basic maintenance on the bridge in August. On Tuesday, engineers determined that the steel underneath the bridge had deteriorated.

Stroud said the weight limit was imposed to ensure the safety of all who cross the bridge.

Guthrie understands the safety concerns but thinks residents should have been told of the weigh limit in advance.

"You just can't say in a half a day notice no more big trucks, we just can't, we can't handle that," said Guthrie.

Stroud said in about two weeks all vehicles should be allowed to cross the bridge again.  Officials expect the repair work to be complete on the bridge by the end of the year.

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