The new bridge over Oregon Inlet is open at last. It doesn’t have a name yet, and it opened without fanfare, but as of 1:30 p.m, Tuesday, February 26 the replacement for the Bonner Bridge is open for traffic. There will be an official ribbon cutting, but that’s not until April 2. By any standard it is a marvel…amazing. the forces at work in the swirling waters of Oregon Inlet are profound. Very few if any places anywhere see as much sand moving through and past its waters. Even on calm days the waters moving through the channel are powerful and treacherous.
Features of the New Oregon Inlet Bridge
It was the power of the waters that scoured the pilings supporting the Bonner Bridge—scoured them so completely that at one point a few years ago, so of them weren’t even attached to the seabed anymore. That should happen with this new bridge. That’s why they drove many of the pilings 100’ beneath the waters. It’s that and quite a number of other features that will give this bridge a 100 year lifespan. Driving across it is noticeably different than the Bonner Bridge. At 90’ over the Oregon Inlet, it’s significantly higher. And the highest portions are much longer. That greater length of the highest part of the bridge was done to allow multiple paths to the sea for boats. That should help significantly with dredging. Dredgeing will still have to occur, but rather than trying to force a channel, some of the natural drift can be accommodated. The road surface is much smoother, but we’ll see what that’s like after a few million cars use the road. Right now about 1.75 million cars cross the span every year. One of the coolest things is there is an 8’ bike path on either side of the road. Bicyclers in the past did pedal over the Bonner Bridge occasionally, but that was a death defying act. There’s still some infrastructure work to do, mostly transferring power lines from the old bridge to the new. But that’s nothing that will slow traffic down.