Walkers, Bikers Cross Bonner Bridge Replacement

Looking down at the Oregon Inlet channel through the Bonner Bridge from the replacement span.
Looking down at the Oregon Inlet channel through the Bonner Bridge from the replacement span.

Cold, windy and spectacular. There is no other way to describe what it was like to walk across Oregon Inlet on the replacement span for the Bonner Bridge.

NCDOT has not opened the new bridge yet to traffic. They have indicated that is coming later this month, but on Saturday they opened the bridge to foot and bike traffic. It’s probably somewhat of a one-off type of thing, but it was worth every step of the journey.

The View from the Top

The view is spectacular…in every direction. A bit dizzying looking down though. But that also gives a good feel for just how large this new bridge is. 

It’s doubtful that anyone ever thought of the Bonner Bridge as small, but looking down on it, it looks like something built out of a toy erector set. With the blocks and pieces of it showing what years of exposure to salt air, wind and Oregon Inlet currents has done.

When the Bonner Bridge was completed in 1964 it was designed to have a 30 year lifespan. Somehow it has managed to survive 55 years of use—thanks in large part to a Herculean effort from NCDOT.

This new bridge has a design life of 100 years. There are a number of design features that have gone into it that were not even available in 1963-1964 when the original span was being built. There are also material in use that were not available 50 years ago.

At the highest point looking down and seeing how narrow the passage through the Bonner is for boat traffic, helps to underscore some of the more remarkable features of this new bridge. It will have, as an example, nine arches that will allow boat traffic. That will help maintain a constantly shifting channel. The arches are also farther apart.

For the bike riders, there are going and coming bike paths. In theory, they could be multi-use paths, but since the sign says share the road with an image of a bicycle, that’s probably what they were designed for.

So…yes, cold, windy but worth it. Excited now for the grand opening of the bridge.

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