Our wonderful Outer Banks Visitors Bureau sent out updates on the closure of the Bonner Bridge and we are sharing with you in an effort to keep you informed.
Bonner Bridge FAQ’s from the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
I’ve heard there’s a bridge closed on the Outer Banks. Is that true?
Yes, on Tuesday, December 3rd the NC Department of Transportation (NCDOT) closed the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which spans Oregon Inlet and connects Hatteras Island to other parts of the Outer Banks. This is the first time since 1990 the bridge has been closed for repairs
Does that mean I won’t be able to get somewhere on the Outer Banks?
No, the bridge is closed, but ferries are providing alternate transportation to and from Hatteras Island. Roads are completely unaffected by the closure of the bridge, so once on Hatteras Island, or anywhere else along the Outer Banks, you’ll have no problem getting around.
When and where are the ferries operating?
Ferries from the south, via Cedar Island/Swan Quarter to Ocracoke with connection to Hatteras Village are operating as they normally do this time of year. For travelers approaching Hatteras Island from the north, four River Class ferries have been brought in to service a route from Stumpy Point (mainland Dare County) to Rodanthe, in the northern portion of Hatteras Island.
How will the new ferry route affect my travel?
The Stumpy Point-Rodanthe ferry crosses the scenic Pamlico Sound. The trip across the Sound takes approximately 2 hours. This route is free.
Why is the bridge closed?
NCDOT discovered scouring around at least one of the bridge’s pilings.
What is scouring?
Scouring is a common occurrence, a natural process where swift currents from an inlet or river over time remove sand and sediment around a bridge’s piling.
How easy is it to fix? How long will the Bonner Bridge be closed?
NCDOT has hired a contractor to immediately begin making repairs to the affected areas. Since it’s a common occurrence, solutions are readily available and will likely involve submerging large concrete jack-shaped objects around the affected piling(s) along with sandbags. These objects will help sand to accumulate around the piling. Once the contractor has evaluated the situation, they will be able to offer a projection as to how long the bridge will remain closed. We will share this information with you as soon as it becomes available.
I’ve heard the bridge is old and needs to be replaced; once the scour is remedied, will it be safe to travel on?
The bridge ultimately does need to be replaced due to its age. Because of this, though, NCDOT is extremely vigilant in monitoring its status. This high level of scrutiny allows NCDOT to immediately recognize and address issues. NCDOT has repeatedly stated that they will not allow the public’s safety to be jeopardized.
Why don’t they just replace the bridge then?
NCDOT has a plan and funding for the bridge to be replaced. They have even hired a contractor to perform the work. However, two lawsuits from the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the National Wildlife Refuge Association and the Defenders of Wildlife, respectively, are preventing NCDOT from moving forward at this time.
If you have questions about a future visit to Hatteras Island or Ocracoke Island please call your vacation rental company.
Photos: Rocky Mount Telegram and Wikimedia