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Balfour Beatty, North Carolina DOT Celebrate Opening of New Harkers Island Bridge Ahead of Schedule

BEAUFORT, NC — Balfour Beatty recently celebrated the grand opening of North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Harkers Island Bridge during a ribbon cutting ceremony. Balfour Beatty teammates joined NCDOT staff, community members, and state and local officials to celebrate the bridge’s official opening, which was completed about a year ahead of schedule.

Delivered by Balfour Beatty, the new 3,200-foot-long, fixed-span bridge connects Harkers Island to the mainland as part of NCDOT’s $60 million Harkers Island Bridge Replacement project, which broke ground in fall 2021. The project replaces two 50-year-old bridges to increase capacity for emergency access and evacuation and reduce congestion and delays for marine vessels and vehicular traffic.

To expedite the construction process, project teammates executed a rapid start to construction by completing the temporary trestle bridge and all pile driving out to the boating channel before an annual fish moratorium from April to October. The team also leveraged a probe during the pile driving process to eliminate the need to perform pre-drilling prior to pile installation. Additionally, just a year after breaking ground, Balfour Beatty successfully installed several loads of precast bridge girders which were transported on water by barge.

“I am so proud of our incredible team who worked diligently in executing dynamic solutions which aided in the success of [the] Harkers Island Bridge opening,” said Mark Johnnie, Balfour Beatty US Civils Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “Constructing an overwater bridge structure ahead of schedule is a remarkable feat and a true testament to tremendous planning and our team’s ongoing commitment to excellence and safety. A huge congratulations to everyone involved in delivering a transformative and innovative bridge that will be used for decades to come in the community.”

The Harkers Island Bridge was built over the straits to the east of the existing Earl C. Memorial Bridge (Bridge No. 73) and Bridge No. 96, which connects the town of Straits to Harkers Island. With a 45-foot navigational clearance, the bridge also allows boats to pass unimpeded safely and allows motorists to travel without delays from bridge openings.

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The new bridge also leverages non-corroding, carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) strand and glass fiber reinforced polymer (GFRP) rebar, making it the first structure in the state to utilize the material. The CFRP and GFRP technology is used to combat corrosion in coastal environments, which allows the Harker Island Bridge to better withstand the elements, resulting in less maintenance and longer lifespan.

Harkers Island Bridge is now open to vehicular traffic. Balfour Beatty will continue to work on the Harkers Island Bridge Replacement project with the final phases of construction involving the removal of Bridge No. 73 and repurposing Bridge No. 96 into a pedestrian bridge to provide access to the center island and a renovated Straits Fishing Pier.

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