Some Say Harkers Island Bridge Closure Poses Safety Issues

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People who live on Harkers Island in Carteret County have been inconvenienced by overnight closures of a bridge Tuesday and Wednesday which is the only road on and off the island. Some say it's a safety issue.

From 9:00 p.m. Wednesday until 6:00 a.m. Thursday morning no traffic, including emergency vehicles, will be allowed across the bridge as the Department of Transportation builds more temporary bridge spans.

"It makes it a little difficult getting people on and off the island in an emergency. As well as getting mutual aid departments on the island if we have a big fire." said Harkers Island Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department Captain Dan Sparks.

Sparks says they have a rescue squad staged just off the island overnight Wednesday. If something were to happen, they would have to push a patient across the bridge on a gurney, put them in a separate ambulance, and continue on to the hospital.Sparks says they can also call for a helicopter to transport a patient.

If there were a big fire on the island, emergency workers would have to meet at the bridge and transfer firefighters to the scene. According to DOT: people who live on Harkers Island could see closures 26 more times as the concrete slabs are replaced on the old bridge.

The NC DOT will be constructing an additional temporary bridge spanning the Harkers Island bridge.

Right now, seven of thirteen spans are bridged with a temporary structure.

On Tuesday, November 6 and Wednesday, November 7 the Department will close Harkers Island Road (SR 1332) to install the temporary structure across the remaining spans. The time restrictions for the closing of Harkers Island Road are as follows:

Road Closure #1 - November 6, 2012 @ 10:00 p.m. to November 7, 2012 @ 6:00 a.m.
Road Closure #2 - November 7, 2012 @ 10:00 p.m. to November 8, 2012 @ 6:00 a.m.

During the Road Closures no traffic will be allowed to cross the Harkers Island Bridge over the Straits. The Department has coordinated with Carteret County Emergency Management for
emergency situations.