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Gallants Channel Bridge Construction Ahead Of Schedule


We hear an update on the construction of the high rise bridge from Morehead City to Beaufort.  

Communing between the coastal communities of Beaufort and Morehead City will be a lot less stressful once a new high rise bridge is operational over Gallants Channel.   The project, which has been in the works for 20 years, is well on its way to completion.

The majority of the earthwork has been completed including clearing the land and building up the roadbed.  Drainage work and concrete-pile driving underwater has wrapped up.  John Rouse is the Department of Transportation Division 2 Engineer.

“The marine construction is well under way as you can tell. That’s the installation of the foundation and the pouring of the columns for piers. The contractor is moving into the phase where he begins the super-structure work, which is the construction of the deck, providing surface on the bridge. If anybody’s been down there lately, you can see where a lot of work has been done. As far as the roadwork is concerned, most of the earth work has been completed. The paving sequence of the job has not started yet, but that should begin later this year.”

An accelerated schedule has been released by the contractor, Conti Construction out of Edison New Jersey, and the finish date for the bridge is now projected for late 2016 instead of 2017.  When the new bridge is completed, Chairman of the Carteret County Transportation Committee Richard Stanley says it will mitigate traffic congestion, especially when the drawbridge opens. 

“Traffic backs up for a mile or a half a mile and that happens daily, especially in the months of April, May, June, through September and October. Highway 70 or Cedar Street is heavily traveled and the bridge backs up, I’ve seen it back up to downtown Morehead City, so it’s a bottle neck.”

During the summer, the Graydon Paul drawbridge opens nearly every 30 minutes to allow boat traffic to pass through Gallants Channel.  Built in 1957, the bridge is considered so functionally obsolete that parts to repair the bascule drawbridge are no longer available.  Richard Stanley, who also serves as the Mayor of Beaufort, says the new high rise will be better for the town in the long run. 

“Gallants Channel bridge will leave the causeway between Beaufort and Morehead City in an area we refer to as Radio Island and it will cross to the north east crossing the North Carolina Maritime Museum property, crossing Gallants Channel, going right by the Morehead Beaufort airport property across Highway 101 and Highway 70 and come out near a subdivision and Olga Drive. So it’s basically going to be a bridge and a bypass.”

The idea of a new bridge to replace the existing Graydon Paul span was first proposed in the 1990’s and the DOT started working on the project in 1994.  Public hearings were held on six to eight possible routes through and around the town of Beaufort.  In July of 2008, the NCDOT proceeded with the roadway and bridge design and entered into the right of way acquisition phase. Rouse says the $66 million dollar project has spurred smaller improvements within the town of Beaufort.

“There’s actually another small bridge that is a part of this project. Turner’s Creek has been closed. That causeway is going to be removed and replaced by a bridge as well. That work should ramp up shortly. And again that is also scheduled to be completed by the end of next year according to our prime contractor.”

Rouse says the current traffic pattern using the drawbridge will continue during the construction phase of the project. Once the new span is complete, the DOT will shift the traffic on to the new bridge and start the task of removing the old bridge. 

The new span is expected to be complete in late 2016.  

Jared Brumbaugh is the Assistant General Manager for Public Radio East. An Eastern North Carolina native, Jared began his professional public radio career at Public Radio East while he was a student at Craven Community College earning his degree in Electronics Engineering Technology. During his 15+ years at Public Radio East, he has served as an award-winning journalist, producer, and on-air host. When not at the station, Jared enjoys hiking, traveling, and honing his culinary skills.