At Hagan's urging, Bonner Bridge replacement will move forward
WASHINGTON, D.C. - At the urging of United States Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and other members of the North Carolina delegation, the U.S. Departments of Interior and Transportation have endorsed the replacement of the deteriorating Bonner Bridge, which until today has been caught up in government red tape. Since coming to the Senate, Hagan has been seeking a solution that will allow the permitting process for the bridge to proceed without additional extensive and time-consuming studies. She has discussed the issue repeatedly with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, and in September, Secretary Salazar sent Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Tom Strickland to Manteo to see firsthand the bridge's fragile state.
"Today's decision is a critical step toward beginning construction on the replacement of Bonner Bridge, ensuring that safe travel to and from Hatteras Island will be a reality," Hagan said. "One of my key priorities has been to ensure the bridge replacement project could move forward, and today is a real victory for the Hatteras Island community. I am very appreciative that Secretary Salazar and Victor Mendez, Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, listened to my concerns regarding the critical importance of replacing the bridge."
This past weekend, Secretary Salazar told Senator Hagan about the department's decision to remove roadblocks to the bridge's replacement.
Dating to her time in the General Assembly, Senator Hagan has been closely monitoring this issue along with state Senator Marc Basnight of Dare County. On November 5, Hagan toured Oregon Inlet by boat to examine the state of Bonner Bridge, and met with Dare County Commissioners Warren Judge and Allen Burrus, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and community leaders to discuss the project. Pictures are available here:
The Bonner Bridge links Bodie Island to Hatteras Island and is the vital artery connecting Hatteras Island to the mainland. The bridge was built in 1963 with an estimated lifespan of 30 years. It is now 17 years past the projected retirement date of 1993.