The replacement bridge over the Oregon Inlet opens to traffic Feb. 25. Dick Jacoby captured this image at the bridge entrance on Bodie Island. The old Bonner Bridge can be seen to the left of the new rise.

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The North Carolina Department of Transportation opened the replacement for the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge to traffic today (Feb. 25) at 12:20 p.m.

“It’s a great day for all residents and visitors to the Outer Banks,” said NCDOT Board Member Allen Moran. “This new bridge will be a critical lifeline to the people and the pristine beaches of Hatteras Island for generations to come.”

Construction began on the state-of-the-art $252 million bridge in March of 2016.

The new bridge is 2.8 miles long and rises 90 feet above Oregon Inlet at its highest point, with 8-foot shoulders on each side. It is the first bridge in the state built with stainless reinforcing steel, which will provide extra protection against its salt water environment. All told, the bridge is built to last 100 years.

The new bridge replaces the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which was built in 1963.

While the Dare County commissioners have suggested the new bridge be named the Marc Basnight Bridge, controversy has arisen in Dare County over this name, which has not yet been approved by the N.C. Board of Transportation.

News sources report that some think the bridge should still be called the Herbert Bonner Bridge, especially many residents on Hatteras Island

With the new bridge open, demolition of the old bridge will begin soon, and is scheduled to be complete by the end of the year. A 1,000-foot section of the south end of the old bridge will remain in place as a pedestrian walkway.

An informal Community Day event to celebrate completion of the new bridge was held Feb. 9. A more formal dedication of the bridge is being planned for April 2.

View of old bridge from new one on Community Day Feb. 9. Photo by Denny Dobbin
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  1. Why not name it the “Oregon Inlet Bridge,” or something more poetic, and not name it after a person? People would know exactly where the bridge was located unlike being named after a person. Controversy solved!

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