Bonner Bridge

The Bonner Bridge connects Bodie and Hatteras Islands on the Outer Banks
ncdot.org

The last legal obstacles have been cleared to begin the process of rebuilding the Bonner Bridge.

Governor Pat McCrory announced today that the final terms have been settled between the state and environmental groups. The 52-year old Bonner Bridge spans the Oregon Inlet.

“This marks another historic milestone in finally replacing the critical lifeline bridge for residents and visitors of the Outer Banks and supporting our continued efforts to connect North Carolina,” McCrory said in a press release. 

An image of Herbert C. Bonner Bridge
Smkybear / Wikimedia Commons

The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge is old— 52 years old, to be exact. Since 1963, the aging Bonner Bridge has connected the Oregon Inlet to Rodanthe in Dare Co. and served as a link from Hatteras Island to the mainland. After years of repairs and legal tangles, the bridge is now being replaced by a new parallel bridge.

A picture of the Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet.
Vbofficial / Wikipedia

Federal budget cuts are making it harder to keep a shipping channel open on the Outer Banks.  Fishermen use the channel to get in and out of Oregon Inlet under the Bonner Bridge. 

Bob Sattin is the Chief of Operations with the Wilmington District of the Army Corp of Engineers.  He said one dredge is working to clear the inlet, but paying for it is a problem.

Bonner Bridge
jennyk325 via Flickr Creative Commons

The Bonner Bridge reopened to traffic yesterday afternoon.

Structural safety concerns caused officials to close the bridge on N.C. 12 earlier this month.  However, the North Carolina Department of Transportation engineers deemed the bridge safe for traffic after several sonar scans, driving two test pilings, and multiple inspections over the past week.

The emergency repair work to add more support to the bridge continues.

SELC's Derb Carter (left) and NC DOT's Tony Tata in the WUNC Durham Studios for The State of Things. Engineer Robin Copley adjusts the microphones.
Carol Jackson / WUNC

The North Carolina Department of Transportation closed the Bonner Bridge last week, leaving Hatteras residents with few options for transportation to and from the mainland. In the wake of the closing, politicians have accused environmentalists of delaying construction of a replacement bridge. Activists say the blame is misplaced and the Department’s delays are at fault. 

prius stuck in stand
Oregon Inlet Idiots

When the Bonner Bridge was closed unexpectedly earlier this week, it shocked many Outer Banks residents and tourists. The bridge links the Outer Banks with the mainland. Suddenly it seemed everyone was wondering... How will I do my shopping and my banking? When will the bridge re-open? What will happen next?

Many locals are going to a rather unlikely place to get their news: a Facebook page called Oregon Inlet Idiots. The page was started in 2011 as a place to poke fun at the tourists.

The Bonner Bridge connects Bodie and Hatteras Islands on the Outer Banks
ncdot.org

Phil Beck has heard it all. He's a part time cashier at Marilyn's Deli in Rodanthe. Just about everyone who comes to his register wants to talk about the unexpected closure of the Bonner Bridge. "They want to know an answer, how long is it gonna take [to open the bridge]?  Most of the customers, they ask me 'What do you know?' "

As he spoke by phone, he paused to ring up a customer. "$4.38 please. Oh, no worries, I've got the other penny."

Bonner Bridge
jennyk325 via Flickr Creative Commons

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.

The Bonner Bridge connects Bodie and Hatteras Islands on the Outer Banks
ncdot.org

A federal judge has issued a ruling partially clearing the way for a new span to replace the Bonner Bridge along the Outer Banks

Activists represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center claim building a new bridge parallel to the existing bridge that links Hatteras Island and the mainland would harm coastal wildlife habitats. They want a longer, more costly bridge further out in Pamlico Sound.

NCDOT

State Transportation Department officials have tapped a Mt. Airy company to make repairs to the Bonner Bridge on Highway 12.  The bridge in Dare County which crosses Oregon Inlet will have steel supports called "crutch bends" added to counteract years of sand erosion, or scour, that have weathered the structure. 

Pablo Hernandez, an engineer with the state DOT, says the last time this type of repair was done was more than 20 years ago.

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