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Wright Memorial Bridge project just over one-third complete

By  on January 17, 2014


Work is scheduled to be done by mid-May. (Bruce Meador)

A $6.3 million project to smooth out the ride on the westbound Wright Memorial Bridge that carries U.S. 158 over the Currituck Sound is progressing well, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Since late September, G.A. & F.C. Wagman Inc. of York, Pa. has been using a special process to grind down the original bridge deck and placing a layer of latex-modfied concrete on the road surface.

“The project is currently 33.17 percent complete by cost,” said Jon Abel, NCDOT Division 1 bridge program manager. The bridge is scheduled to reopen to traffic by May 15.

The westbound bridge was closed to traffic Sept. 17, reducing travel on U.S. 158 between Kitty Hawk and Point Harbor to one lane in each direction on the original bridge that opened in the 1960′s.

Traffic back-ups similar to a summer weekend were a problem the first two Saturday’s after the closing, but have not been a problem since.

There has been one major crash on the bridge since the closing.

When the westbound bridge was built in 1995, the supports of the deck did not bend as expected after the concrete road deck was poured on top.

The road deck between each bent, which is the combination of pilings that supports the bridge, had a more pronounced “hump” causing the bouncy ride over the bridge.

A similar issued developed on other bridges built around the same time in the region, including the Washington Baum Bridge over Roanoke Sound, but not to the severity as on the Wright Memorial Bridge.

“The contractor has completed placing the latex-modified concrete overlay on 82 spans,” Abel said. “Hydrodemolition and overlay work is being performed as the weather allows.”

Conditions need to be just right before crews can work with the latex-modified concrete, according to the original NCDOT statement on the project.

Air temperatures must be between 50 and 85 degrees with surface temperatures between 40 and 85 degrees. Wind speeds can be no more than 10 mph.

“The contractor currently plans to work continuously through the winter as the weather allows,” Abel said.

Joint seals are also being replaced which allows the bridge to expand and contract with the weather and that work is continuing, Abel said.

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