Sunset Beach bridge ahead of schedule; advancing across waterway

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Tenders of old bridge still set for layoff

By Laura Lewis, Reporter

SUNSET BEACH—As new high-rise bridgework proceeds across the Intracoastal Waterway, the other good news is work is ahead of schedule, a construction official said this week.


If work continues at its current pace, the new $32 million NCDOT bridge should be up and ready for traffic by mid 2010, project coordinator Dylan Frazier said Monday.

“It should be right around there—June or July,” Frazier said as co-workers with English Construction Co. dissembled a crane Monday in preparation for having it moved by barge across the waterway.

Frazier said the whole project was still scheduled for completion by December 2010, which is the deadline for removal of the old pontoon bridge that’s still being used.

“The actual [new] bridge should be [finished] before that,” he said.

Work, he said, has continued at a steady pace with workers taking off the week of Christmas.

“But we worked right through New Year’s,” Frazier said.

Workers have started moving equipment to the other side of the waterway. Frazier said they also expect to get beams either this week or next.

“We’re going to start behind the fire department and work our way out this way,” he said as work continued next to the waterway.

Employees with Case Atlantic Drilling Co. have been working on casings and pouring concrete at a “six-pack” of drill shafts that are six feet in diameter and 84-feet deep next to the waterway.

“It takes 300 or 400 yards [of concrete] just to support the span that goes up, like that one over there,” employee Terry Miller said, pointing at the towering concrete spans that have already been built on the mainland.

He said each of the drill shafts took “80 yards plus” of material that will be used to support the bridge.

Welder Jimmy Patrick stayed busy as well “cutting cans” off the grade caissons to make them level.

He said they have “a lot of stuff” to move as they proceed across the waterway, including putting in more caisson holes with cans and drilling holes to pour concrete.

“We’ve moving to the other side,” Patrick said. “We’ll get through with the foundation and work our way back.”

He estimated they’ll be finished with foundation work by the end of March or April.


Meanwhile, temporary operators of the old Sunset Beach pontoon bridge are still slated for layoff this year due to budgetary cuts by NCDOT.

“Right now we are training to replace all of the temporary bridge operators,” Amanda Glenn, division bridge maintenance engineer for NCDOT, said Monday.

She said she doesn’t have a time frame.

“It’s just however long it takes to sufficiently train someone else to do the job,” she said.

Layoffs will affect four temporary operators but not the bridge’s one permanent employee.

One longtime operator, Tom Hewett, said NCDOT employees have been driving to the bridge in state trucks for training. Hewett also will be affected by the impending layoffs.