Balfour Beatty breaks ground on $60m Harkers Island Bridge project

The road to Harkers Island, North Carolina (Courtesy of Balfour Beatty)

Balfour Beatty’s US company has broken ground on the $60m Harkers Island Bridge Replacement project, commissioned by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).

Its successful lowest bid for the job was announced on 29 July this year.

The contractor will replace the two, 50-year-old bridges that together form the road link from the town of Straits to Harkers Island, a tourism and fishing centre in Carteret County.

The old bridges sustain some 3,000 vehicle journeys a day and the replacement aims to cut road congestion and increase capacity for emergency services and hurricane evacuation.

It will also ease the flow of boats because Balfour Beatty’s single, 975-metre-long fixed-span bridge will have 13.7m clearance to let them pass underneath. Now they must wait for the span of one of the bridges, the Earl C. Memorial Bridge, to swing open to let them pass, which further delays vehicular traffic.

Once the new bridge is built to the east of the current link – expected in the autumn of 2025 – the swinging bridge will be removed and Carteret County will take ownership of the second bridge to repurpose it as a pedestrian bridge to a fishing pier on the island in the straits that is currently traversed by the road link.

Balfour Beatty said it would use non-corroding, carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) strands on the new bridge, helping it withstand corrosion and last longer in the marine environment. It will be the first NCDOT bridge project to use the technology.

One constraint facing Balfour Beatty on the project is that it must do no in-water work between April and September each year so as not to disrupt fish-spawning.

“We are honored to deliver another transportation project for the North Carolina Department of Transportation,” said Mark Johnnie, Balfour Beatty vice president and region manager in North Carolina.

“Balfour Beatty has a long history of building bridges in the coastal areas of North Carolina. Success for the company isn’t just about delivering projects on time and under budget, but completing projects safely, innovatively and sustainably while being a good neighbour in the communities where we work.”

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