New bridge dedicated to OBX hero Capt. Richard Etheridge

By on February 21, 2018

Members of the Coast Guard and Pea Island Preservation Society at the dedication. (Sam Walker)

Bridge dedications can at times be mundane, with the usual dry speeches, a ribbon cutting or sign unveiling and a photo opportunity.

But that was not the case Tuesday on Hatteras Island, as the dedication of the Capt. Richard Etheridge Bridge was not only educational, it was inspirational, and at times emotional, for those in attendance.

Local and state officials gathered before a standing-room-only crowd in the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Building to speak about the significance of the concrete bridge over the breach of Pea Island by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

And they remarked on the even more significant namesake of the span, the first African-American keeper of a U.S. Life-Saving Service station more than a century ago.

Etheridge was born a slave in 1842 and served in the Civil War for the Union Army at a key battle outside Richmond.

He then returned home to Dare County and eventually ascended to keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station, crewed by an all African-American unit that was credited with saving countless lives, that once stood not far from the bridge that now carries his name.

“It’s fitting that, even though it’s been more than a century since his most heroic moment, Capt. Richard Etheridge will continue to play a role in keeping people safe along this stretch of coastline,” said N.C. Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon.

The U.S. Coast Guard posthumously awarded Etheridge and his crew the Gold Lifesaving Medal for the heroic rescue of those on board the E.S. Newman during a hurricane in 1896. A Coast Guard cutter is also named in Etheridge’s honor.

The Pea Island Preservation Society presented their “Freedmen, Surfmen and Heroes,” which has been performed for Dare County school students and other groups chronicling Etheridge’s life story.

Two of the presenters, Joan Collins and society President Darrell Collins, have ties to Etheridge and are descendants of Pea Island crew members.

Part of the presentation retold the story of the Newman rescue, and interpreters James Charlet and Linda Malloy brought the story of the heroic efforts of Etheridge and the surfmen in his charge to life.

​​​​​​​The bridge, formerly known as the Pea Island Interim Bridge, was completed last year to replace a temporary metal bridge built and open to traffic just six weeks after Hurricane Irene’s soundside storm surge slice through Pea Island.

The Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound were connected by a 200-yard-wide, 6- to 8-foot deep channel one month later, but the cut has since naturally healed itself, just like New Inlet did decades ago just to the south.

“Thank you to the family members for lending us that name,” said Dare County Manager Bobby Outten. “And thank you, NCDOT, for putting that bridge in for us.”

Efforts to name the bridge for Etheridge were first spearheaded by former state transportation board member Malcolm Fearing of Manteo, then got a huge boost from a group of Kitty Hawk elementary school students who embarked on a letter-writing campaign.

“I can’t think of a more appropriate way to honor Black History Month than to name this bridge the Capt. Richard Etheridge Bridge,” said Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert Woodard. “I hope every Outer Banks resident that crosses this bridge thinks about his legacy and shares his story with everyone in their vehicle.”

Watch the full ceremony via Facebook Live:


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


See what people are saying:

  • rayzdoc

    To say that this is a fitting and well-deserved honor just doesn’t seem enough!! After viewing “Rescue Men” my respect of these African American heroes took in a while new respect!

    Wednesday, Feb 21 @ 8:54 pm