Kelley J. Macchio / 252.305.6974

The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge: Details about the closure and what you can do to help

The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge: Details about the closure and what you can do to help

(Please feel free to ask questions in the comment section.  For the immediate future, I will be using this blog to provide updates on the closure, repairs, ferry information etc.)

On Tuesday afternoon news spread quickly that due to safety concerns, the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge (the bridge over Oregon Inlet) was to be closed immediately.   While quite the blow to islanders and visitors, we are grateful that action was taken to protect the public before a catastrophe occurred.

First, I would like to thank those of you that have called, emailed and texted me to show your concern for the current situation.  The relationships that I have developed in my real estate career are cherished and your words of encouragement and support are deeply appreciated.

So, here’s what we know:  We started to hear reports from NCDOT last week that routine inspections of the bridge via sonar scans and divers detected scouring (erosion of sand) around some support structures on the south side of the bridge.  It was announced that emergency repairs were needed and were being organized, but, for the time being, the bridge was safe to cross.  At the same time, the ferry division was testing and preparing to stand up the emergency ferry route between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point if necessary.  According to the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Tony Tata, subsequent inspections on Friday, Monday and Tuesday revealed that the rate of scour was increasing.  On Tuesday afternoon the decision to close the bridge, effective immediately, was made.  Secretary Tata declared a state of emergency within his scope to expedite the awarding of a contract for repairs, and a contract was in fact awarded to Carolina Bridge Company.  Tata went on to say that the Governor will declare a state of emergency today as well.  Since the dredge Alaska is currently at Oregon Inlet, they are working on pulling permits to allow for sand to be diverted to the scour area by the dredge.

The emergency ferry is up and running. Kudos to the Ferry Division and Jed Dixon, DOT’s deputy ferry director!!  A link to the schedule is at the end of this blog, please check it often as it could be subject to change.  This afternoon, a priority loading list was released:

-Dare Transport Vehicles
-People with documented medical appointments
-FedEx, UPS, and U.S. Postal Service vehicles
-Vehicles that service the onsite restroom facilities
-Medical transport of pharmecueticals
-School buses for school events

All other vehicles will be on a first-come, first-served basis.

What we don’t know yet is the timeline for repairs or how long the bridge will be closed.  Secretary Tata did not want to speculate on the timeline during the press conference held today in Dare County.  He said that it will take some time, possibly 2 weeks, to move in the equipment and materials for the repair operation.  Once the contractor is on site, we may get an idea of how long the repairs will take.  Only then will we have any estimate of when the bridge could be reopened to traffic.

It’s no secret that the Bonner Bridge needs to be replaced, and, it should have been replaced 20 years ago.  Why hasn’t it been built?  The short answer is all work is on hold due to a lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) on behalf of the Defenders of Wildlife and National Wildlife Refuge Association.  On a call with one of the local radio stations, Governor Pat McCrory said that he needs public support to put pressure on that group (SELC) to “get out of the way” of the efforts to rebuild the bridge.

We could use your help in providing Governor McCrory the support he has requested (you can listen to his comments on the link to the Outer Banks Voice article provided below).  If you are so inclined, please write,email, fax or call the groups below and ask that they drop the appeals and lawsuits that are prohibiting NC DOT from building a new bridge over Oregon Inlet.  Then, please let the Governor know of your efforts.

Southern Environmental Law Center Regional offices
Defenders of Wildlife

National Wildlife Refuge Association
Phone: 202-417-3803
Email: nwra@refugeassociation.org

Governor Pat McCrory Contact Information

Links of Interest:

Emergency Ferry Schedule
Island Free Press Article 12.3.13
Dare County Government Video of Press Conference 12.4.13
NC DOT Facebook Page
Homes On Hatteras Facebook Page
Outer Banks Voice Article 12.3.13
Bridge Moms Facebook Page

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