Hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists walked, biked, and ran across the new bridge over Oregon Inlet for the first time this year. Community Day brought families, dogs, and visitors from all over the area to celebrate the long-awaited completion of the new bridge. The ceremony began with local officials and community groups offering bits of the Bonner Bridge's history and insight into the nearly 3-year project. To recognize the close ties between the people and the inlet, a wreath was tossed to the water below the bridge. It opened to vehicles the last week of February 2019 and is ready to drive across during your Outer Banks escapes!
The new bridge is an engineering marvel...the OBX's newest icon...on par with our lighthouses and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. It spans nearly 2.8 miles-long with a roadway height of 90 feet above Oregon Inlet. The bridge gives both travelers and fishermen confidence and dependability when it comes to being able to access the ocean or Hatteras Island with a solid lifespan of 100 years. The Bonner Bridge Replacement Project began in March 2016 after a ground-breaking ceremony with former Governor Pat McCrory and a completed cost of $252 million through PCL Civil Constructors and HDR Engineering. The new bridge will be named after former state Senator, Marc Basnight. Basnight grew up on the Outer Banks, graduated from Manteo High School and achieved success as a business owner who provided local job opportunities before embarking on a distinguished career of public service as an elected official. Throughout his public service career, Basnight was a passionate and effective advocate for advancing education, providing transportation infrastructure, safeguarding the environment and other issues of public concern.
The new two-lane bridge will carry North Carolina Highway 12 (NC 12), the only access route between Hatteras Island and Bodie Island. Segmental and conventional concepts produce a cost-efficient structure. Reinforced stainless steel and high-quality materials provide better corrosion prevention and will slow structural damage from sea salt, air and water. The bridge was constructed in five different stages using an accelerated construction technique of offsite concrete precasts. Larger navigational spans will provide easy access to the inlet for watercraft and marine vessels.
Bonner Bridge Background
The Bonner Bridge, around since 1963, was built to provide transportation over Oregon Inlet to replace the hour-long ferry ride, whose operation was often pending on weather conditions. The bridge was named after congressman Herbert Covington Bonner and consisted of a 130ft-wide navigational span. With approval of the state Board of Transportation, sections of the Bonner Bridge will now be transformed to a fishing pier while the remaining is torn down by September 2019. The fishing pier would keep the name Herbert C. Bonner. (Photos below provided by NCDOT)
The new bridge is a special representation of the strong OBX community. It's a lifeline connecting the Islands physically and a symbol of perseverance for surrounding communities. Check out our sunset flight below with OBX Airplanes the day before the bridge opened for pedestrians.