Balfour Beatty is replacing two 50-year-old bridges on behalf of the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to increase capacity for emergency access and evacuation and reduce congestion and delays for marine vessels and vehicular traffic.
Construction includes development of a new, single, 3,200-foot-long fixed-span bridge to replace the existing Earl C. Memorial Bridge (Bridge No. 73) and Bridge No. 96 that currently connects the town of Straits to Harkers Island. The new bridge will be built over the straits to the east of the existing bridges and will provide a direct path for drivers traveling to and from the mainland. With a 45-foot navigational clearance, the new bridge will allow boats to pass unimpeded and safely and allow motorists to travel without delays from bridge openings.
Once the new bridge is built, Bridge No. 73 will be removed and Carteret County will take ownership of Bridge No. 96, which will be repurposed as a pedestrian bridge to provide access to the center island and a renovated Straits Fishing Pier.
Balfour Beatty is leveraging the latest technologies including non-corroding, carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) strands, a proven advancement in transportation technology that performs comparably to steel in the finished product and is lighter and more durable than traditional materials. As the first NCDOT bridge project to use the corrosion-free CFRP technology, the new Harkers Island Bridge is expected to better withstand the elements in the coastal environment, resulting in less maintenance and a longer lifespan for the new bridge.
Balfour Beatty began construction in September 2021. The project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2025, with an in-water work moratorium that lasts from April 1 through September 30 each year to protect fish spawning.