The Bonner Bridge is a 2.5-mile span over the Oregon Inlet to Hatteras Island that connects as many as 13,000 vehicles with a road to the mainland.
OREGON INLET, N.C. -
The North Carolina Department of Transportation has closed
the Bonner Bridge, the only road link to the Hatteras Island portion of the
NCDOT completed inspections of the bridge Friday and
Saturday and found the waters in the inlet have scoured out sand around the
base of supports at the southern end of the bridge, which carries N.C. Highway
12 to the barrier island. As a result, department officials decided to
immediately close the bridge of the safety of those who cross it.
"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.
"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."
NCDOT declared a state of emergency as a way of
expediting the repair process. The bridge will remain closed until the department can bring
in additional resources to inspect the bridge and make necessary repairs.
Until it is safe to reopen, the NCDOT Ferry Division will
provide emergency support to move people and cars across the Pamlico Sound.
All tolls 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.
In September, a federal judge approved plans for a parallel
span to replace the aging Bonner Bridge.
NCDOT said it has spent more than $56 million in repairs and
maintenance over the past two decades on the 50-year-old bridge.
Two additional repair projects on the Bonner Bridge, which
total $2 million, and are needed to keep this critical transportation corridor
open, began this fall.