A once-in-a-lifetime chance to stand in the middle of a busy highway and stare 90 feet down at the Outer Banks is being offered Saturday by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
The 2.7-mile Bonner Bridge replacement along NC 12 is being surrendered for six hours to pedestrians and cyclists in advance of opening to motorists at a still undisclosed date.
Once that happens, pedestrians will be restricted to the shoulders and most people will see the view at 55 mph through a windshield.
The event will also be a wake of sorts: Carolinians will have a chance to stand across from the beloved Bonner Bridge and bid it farewell. It was built 55 years ago and replaced an hour-long ferry ride over Oregon Inlet, according to RoadTrafficTechnology.com.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
Most of the current Bonner Bridge is to be demolished and the parts used to create artificial reefs off the state’s beaches. A 1,000-foot span is to be saved as a pier of sorts and be opened to pedestrians, says NCDOT.
Pedestrians and cyclists will be allowed on the new bridge Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No skateboards, scooters or roller blades will be allowed, says NCDOT.
A ceremony will at 11 a.m., will offer “a special blessing of thankfulness for the bridge and laying of a wreath in Oregon Inlet to honor the close connection between the people of the Outer Banks and the inlet,” says NCDOT.
The ceremony comes just days after the National Park Service announced a 5.7 percent increase in visitors to Cape Hatteras National Seashore in 2018: 2,572,297 people visited the seashore, and nearly all of them needed NC 12 to get there.
The $252 million Bonner Bridge replacement has not yet been named. It is the first bridge in the state to incorporate stainless steel to thwart salt water corrosion, says the NCDOT. It will include 8-foot shoulders for people who want to walk or bike on the bridge, says NCDOT.