The replacement for the Bonner Bridge dwarfs the original span. The new bridge is scheduled to open for traffic in the fall.

Now that summer is here, our Outer Banks roads fill with visitors and well…there are times the transportation system seems a bit overwhelmed. Some of the problem is the sheer volume of traffic, but other issues can be addressed and the latest edition of NCDOT’s transportation plan has some intriguing ideas—and funding for some of them.

Nothing is going to happen right away, but it does appear as though within the foreseeable future some relief is in sight.

Pea Island—Bonner Bridge Replacement

This one is almost done and should be opening by sometime in the fall of this year. The replacement bridge is massive and, according to the engineers working on the project, it will have a 100 year lifespan.

The bridge is one part of a larger project to safely and permanently connect Hatteras Island with the northern Outer Banks.

The project includes the recently opened Captain Richard Etheridge Bridge that spans the New Inlet area 

Construction will also begin very soon on what is being called the Jug Handle that will bypass the S Curves north of Rodanthe.

A Highway Divided

At one time the Bypass—US 158—really was a bypass of the Beach Road businesses of Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head. Those days, though, are long gone and now the 5-lane highway with the death-defying middle turning lane has caught the attention of NCDOT.

Plans call for what would be considered a superhighway with left turns and cross traffic restricted to specific intersections. That center turn lane would be replaced by a traffic barrier.

NCDOT uses a ranking formula and this particular project ranked very high—so high that funding has been assigned to the project. Nonetheless, the start day on construction is not until 2025.

Mid Currituck Bridge

We’ve saved the most confusing for last.

Supposedly sometime this summer a Record of Decision on the $489 million project will be issued. 

The bridge is seen as a regional priority, not a statewide priority. Although NCDOT has indicated it is confident funding will be available, as a regional project it will impact other projects in northeastern North Carolina, so if a large emergency project comes up, it could get pushed back again.

That being said, if the ROD is released this summer that would be a major step. The ROD gives the scope of the project, projected cost and schedule. The document is required for any construction contract.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) has indicated they are opposed to the bridge. If they do file a lawsuit, it would be after the ROD is issued.