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Radio Island, N.C., trestle reopens after mishap with ship

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Freight cars from Radio Island rolled over the Newport River to Morehead City Port on Nov. 5 for the first time since a ship knocked out the railway trestle on June 5, according to the Sun Journal.

North Carolina Department
of Transportation inspectors certified the trestle on Nov. 4 after repairs
totaling about $600,000 were done to make it usable and safe again, said Brad
McMannen, assistant resident engineer.

Elbert Pittman, DOT
construction technician, inspected the trestle that was hit by the 558-foot
motor vessel Aurora.

McMannen said repairs
included setting the T-beams and pouring concrete to reinforce them, and
resetting the trestle rail.

"There wasn’t significant
damage to existing piles, but if that trestle wasn’t there the high-rise may
have come down," he said.

The high-rise bridge over
the river carries U.S. 70 traffic on one of only two bridges to Carteret County’s
eastern side from Beaufort to the Cedar Island Ferry.

Repairs to the trestle,
owned by the port and operated by Morehead and South Fork Railroad, will be
paid for by LOC Americas, McMannen said. LOC is the insurance company covering
the 16,454-gross-ton ship owned by PCS Barbados Shipping that hit the trestle.
It was empty and getting ready to take on phosphate from the port’s main user,
PCS Phosphate, when it hit.

John Hughes, DOT division
bridge maintenance engineer, said following the incident that "the ship that
hit it knocked some of the supporting girders into the water" and said it would
take between three and six months to make the repairs.

Radio Island Causeway
Yard manager John Odem said there were about 42 freight cars stranded by the
accident that mainly affected storage. The tank cars used for ethanol transport
are stored empty on Radio Island. No jet fuel has been stored or transported
from Radio Island for 10 years.

Witnesses and a U.S. Coast
Guard spokesman said that the ship was being tugged across the port channel on
the Newport River and got loose in the wind and strong currents. It dropped
anchor and attempted to start its engines to stop motion toward the trestle and
the high-rise bridge in Morehead City, but it was unable to stop.

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