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Construction of the New Sunset Beach, NC, Bridge

Jo O'Keefe Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved

English Construction Company, Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia

Page 10

The new Sunset Beach Bridge will open completed before the full project is completed. As of September 3, if there are no complications, the bridge will open to vehicular traffic between the first and third week of October 2010. The dedication, open to the public, will be held on October 1 at 4 PM. After the new bridge is open for traffic, the detour, the work bridge and the old bridge will be removed. Causeway changes will be made. There already is more marsh than there was with the original causeway. Still more will develop when an additional portion of the old causeway is removed. Catch basins on the island and mainland ends will capture run-off from the bridge to prevent chemicals in it from polluting the water.

Many persons are asking how much the new bridge cost. Having fought hard for the new bridge, I cannot mention its cost without also mentioning the reason why it is so expensive. Through a series of lawsuits, bridge opponents delayed construction of the high-rise bridge for a quarter of a century. The initial estimated cost was $5.2 million. The $31.9 million bid from English Construction Company in 2007 was $26.7 million higher, a cost shouldered by taxpayers.

English Construction Company has been on-site since February 2008. They will remain through at least December 2010. The costs of that labor, along with machinery and construction materials, are included in the $31.9 million cost of the new Sunset Beach Bridge.

A section of the new bridge was post-tensioned meaning the application of a compressive force to the concrete by stressing tendons after the concrete has been cast and cured. The force in the stressed tendons is transferred to the concrete by means of anchorages. The new Sunset Beach bridge has three such tendons. These tendons are high strength steel members made up of a number of strands or wires. The tendons go through three spans over the waterway -- the central span under which vessels will pass, and the spans immediately left and right of it. The post-tensioned girders are connected together with reinforcing steel and post tensioning tubes. Finally concrete is cast between the end of each girder, connecting the girders together. The tendons are placed in the tubes throughout the post-tensioned girders and then jacked. This jacking or post tensioning results in compression on the entire three-span section of the bridge, basically creating one long girder.

There are steel anchors cast into the ends of the girders to prevent the tendons from pulling out of the girders.

June 4, 2010: History was made today as the final girders of the new bridge were put into place.
Lowering first of the four final girders, with old Sunset Beach Pontoon Bridge open for boat traffic
   
Positioning the first of the four final girders that will close the last gap of the span. Two brave men stood alongside the girder to guide it into position.
   
After the first of the four final girders is in place, a worker walks across it.
Expanse of the new Sunset Beach Bridge crossing the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway
June 7, 2010
New Sunset Beach Bridge
Waterway span of new Sunset Beach Bridge, 06/07/10
 
Final four girders, 06/07/10