The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet was struck by a 70-foot sportsfishing boat this morning, the Coast Guard confirmed. The Manteo-based vessel struck the bridge near the center span around 6 A.M. Saturday morning, said Coast Guard Senior Chief Ron McCready at the Oregon Inlet station. McCready said that the bridge is still open, and the vessel has been towed back to the marina with no apparent injuries. Investigators have not determined the cause, McCready said.
The Bonner Bridge spans Oregon Inlet on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It carries traffic on NC 12 from Bodie Island just south of Nags Head to Hatteras Island. The Bonner Bridge is the only connection between Hatteras Island and the rest of Dare County. The bridge has served Hatteras Island for 43 years. However, it has now served past its intended lifespan. Plans to replace the bridge have been in the works for more than 15 years, but environmental concerns and disagreements about replacement options have prolonged the process. With each passing day, the situation becomes more pressing for Hatteras Island residents, landowners, entrepreneurs, and visitors.
Since 2003, nearly 2 million cars per year have crossed the bridge. On an average day, 5,000 vehicles use the bridge. That number rises to almost 10,000 on a busy summer day. If Bonner Bridge were to be closed for safety reasons or repairs, access to Hatteras Island would be cut drastically. The results would be catastrophic.
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