PEA ISLAND, N.C. (WAVY) — If you plan to drive along the Outer Banks soon, you may notice a new bridge as you cross Pea Island.
North Carolina Department of Transportation officials announced Wednesday that the Pea Island Interim Bridge is now open for traffic.
A temporary metal bridge has been in place since Hurricane Irene in 2011.
Although the bridge is technically open, road work like smoothing and grading of road shoulders needs to be done, officials said.
Traffic on the bridge will be limited in a one-lane, two-way pattern that officials say will be controlled by flaggers and temporary traffic signals.
The new bridge is wider than the old one, with 12-foot lanes and 4-foot shoulders. The speed limit is faster: 45 miles per hour instead of 25.
“By building this short-term improvement with a concrete structure, we were able to build that smooth riding structure, have more durability, and less maintenance concerns and worries that we would have with a metal structure being this close to the Atlantic and the Pamlico Sound,” said NCDOT Resident Engineer Pablo Hernandez.
Jason Heilig said the change could mean a smoother flow of traffic to his business, Rodanthe Surf Shop.
“That’s fabulous. I think the new design, the new layout is going to be benefit everyone, motorists, cyclists, pedestrians in general. It sounds like it’s going to be much safer,” he said.
The lane closures are expected to last three to five days, and will allow crews to add asphalt to the existing to road in order to raise N.C. 12.
Once traffic is returned to a regular pattern, crews will start tearing down the temporary bridge. That is expected to be completed by winter of 2018.