The N.C. Department of Transportation studied eight design options – called alternatives – for building the Marc Basnight Bridge within two corridors. Each alternative was detailed in the Record of Decision, a document that explained NCDOT's decision for choosing the preferred option.
That alternative, approved by the Federal Highway Administration, broke the project into two phases:
Phase I included building the Marc Basnight Bridge west of where the Bonner Bridge stood.
Phase II included implementing permanent solutions for breaches caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011 on N.C. 12 in Pea Island and Rodanthe.
The exact plan for implementing future phases was based on NCDOT's active coastal monitoring program, which helped determine where and when to make improvements to N.C. 12 from the south end of the Bonner Bridge to Rodanthe.
Pappy's Lane Shipwreck
With support from NCDOT, a group of graduate students from the East Carolina University Maritime Studies Program – in partnership with University of North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute – studied a shipwreck off Rodanthe in the Pamlico Sound known as the "Pappy's Lane Shipwreck" to gather more information to help identify the ship.
The wreckage lies near the Marc Basnight Bridge. To mitigate the impact construction had on the historic ship, NCDOT worked with state and federal agencies to research the sunken vessel, a commitment outlined in the Bonner Bridge project's Record of Decision.
As part of an NCDOT-funded interdisciplinary grant associated with the nearby Rodanthe-Stumpy Point Emergency Ferry channel, research suggested that the wreckage might be the remains of a late-19th or early-20th century steel-hulled ship that was in the United States Lighthouse Service and an ex-Coast Guard buoy. Other research showed that it might have served in the Spanish-American War, World War I and World War II.
Recent investigations by Panamerican Consultants – a consultant working with NCDOT's archaeology group to document cultural resources affected by the Bonner Bridge replacement project – suggested the shipwreck is eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.