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Bonner Bridge Projects


Nearly 30 years after the N.C. Department of Transportation began its efforts to replace the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge – which carries N.C. 12 over Oregon Inlet in Dare County – construction began in March 2016.

As the only highway connection to the mainland, this bridge is a lifeline for the citizens of Hatteras Island and the tens of thousands of visitors to this area. Once completed, the new Bonner Bridge will provide a safe, reliable link for the island.


The Bonner Bridge replacement project is added to the State Transportation Improvement Program – NCDOT’s schedule for transportation priorities. The planning process begins to replace the existing Bonner Bridge.


The Draft Environmental Impact Statement, a document examining the impact of construction on both the natural and human surroundings, is approved, followed by the release of the preferred alternative – the option NCDOT Identifies as having the least environmental impact – to build a parallel bridge.


To address questions, comments and concerns about the preferred alternative, NCDOT completes additional detailed studies and analyses, working with the local community, state and federal agencies, as well as other stakeholders. The department completes the final environmental document and submitted it to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for review and approval.

Dec. 20, 2010

The FHWA approves the document and issues what is called the Record of Decision. State agencies also agree with the document and begin issuing the necessary environmental permits. These steps allow the department to move forward with a contract for design and construction of a new bridge.

July 26, 2011

NCDOT awards a design-build contract to replace the bridge; construction is scheduled to begin in early 2013.

July 2011

The first of two lawsuits (another in August 2013) are filed on behalf of both the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association by the Southern Environmental Law Center.

June 2015

NCDOT and its partner agencies reach a settlement agreement with the petitioners that allowed the department to move forward with replacing the Bonner Bridge with a new parallel bridge. The settlement also contains conditions that, once met, would allow the department to move forward with two other projects along N.C. 12 at New Inlet, a breach caused by Hurricane Irene, and at Rodanthe.

August 2015

All conditions of the settlement agreement are met; lawsuits are officially dropped.

March 2016

Construction of the new Bonner Bridge begins.

Fall 2018

New Bonner Bridge is scheduled to open to traffic.

Fall 2019

Project is completed, including the removal of the existing bridge.