Bodie Lighthouse repairs hit a snag

Published 7:34 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Contributing Writer

On the Outer Banks, a lighthouse-restoration project is facing problems.
The Bodie Island Lighthouse had been going through major repairs near its balcony and at the top of the structure.
This summer, as repairs were under way, a significant safety issue was uncovered when layers upon layers of paint and corrosion were removed, revealing troublesome cracks and breaks in the structural supports that hold the balcony and affect the stability of the top of lighthouse. These cracks and breaks are significant enough that they must be repaired now or the opportunity to reopen the lighthouse to the public for climbing will be lost, according to the National Park Service, which oversees the lighthouse.
Cyndy Holda, a NPS public affairs specialist, explained what this finding means for the project’s future.
“This significant finding will delay progress on the project. Additional funding must now be obtained in order to adequately and correctly repair the heretofore unknown problems with the support system under the balcony,” Holda said. “The existing contractor will finish further work details before terminating the current project in February 2011. In the meantime, NPS is actively searching for additional funding for the project through regional and Washington levels. We hope to continue work as soon as additional funding is obtained, and once the project is completed, the plans are to open the lighthouse to the public for climbing.”
The National Park Service is calling the Bodie Island Lighthouse restoration project a “line-item construction” project. Projects of this size and magnitude require additional funding from other sources, usually from the National Park Service’s budget office in Washington, D.C.
The project received a “notice to proceed” on Dec. 8, 2009. The project is managed by the National Park Service in conjunction with a prime contractor, United Builders Group, LLC of New Bern; the restoration contractor, Progressive Contracting Company of Edenton; and metal restoration work by Enberg Mold &Tool of Jacksonville, Fla. The contractors continue to work on other areas of the lighthouse. The National Park Service has several employees associated with the project, but they are not working on the lighthouse.
Other lighthouses that have been repaired in the past five years include the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and Ocracoke Lighthouse. Each has received structural and general maintenance work.
The Cape Lookout Lighthouse, part of the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Last summer, it reopened to the public for climbing. The town of Duck has the Currituck Lighthouse, which is owned and operated by a private, nonprofit organization, the Outer Banks Conservationists.