Updated 12/4 with video from NCDOT press conference
The N.C. Department of Transportation has closed the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet on N.C. 12 along the Outer Banks today due to immediate safety concerns.
Routine sonar scans identified areas where the structural support of the bridge has been compromised by sand erosion. NCDOT crews are monitoring the situation, declaring a state of emergency in order to expedite repair.
“Closing the Bonner Bridge is necessary to keep all travelers safe, but we know it will have a devastating effect on the people who live along and visit the Outer Banks,” said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata in an agency news release. “We will work to safely reopen this vital lifeline quickly, and hope to be able to begin construction on a new bridge as soon as possible.”
The Bonner Bridge is the only highway access connection between Hatteras Island and the mainland.
The press release says: "Ferry Division workers have already tested the emergency ferry ramps at Stumpy Point and Rodanthe, and the division is currently sending four 180-foot River Class vessels to begin operating the emergency Hatteras Island route. All tolls currently in place on the Ocracoke-Swan Quarter and Ocracoke-Cedar Island ferry routes will be waived for residents, emergency personnel and vendors while the bridge is closed and the emergency ferry route is in operation. The U.S. Coast Guard is also currently on standby."
It's anticipated that the emergency ferry route will be functional by Wednesday morning.
At full capacity on a full schedule, the route can ferry 760 single cars a day, 380 from each side. A detailed emergency ferry route schedule will be available on the Ferry division website.
The Bonner bridge is 50 years old. Plans to replace the bridge are currently underway.
Host Frank Stasio talks with Sam Walker, Outer Banks Voice reporter, about the closing of the bridge. Audio for this segment will be up by 3 p.m.
Google Map of the Emergency Ferry Route
View NCDOT NC 12 - Emergency Ferry Route in a larger map