Should the new bridge over Oregon Inlet have a new name?

By on September 27, 2018

The new bridge will likely now open in early 2019. (Voice)

As construction of the long-awaited new bridge over Oregon Inlet to replace the six decades old Herbert C. Bonner Bridge is nearing completion, the question has to be asked.

Does the new bridge deserve a new name?

Other then a few casual conversations among locals and government leaders, there hasn’t been a major push to retire the Bonner name when the current span is taken out of service.

A native of Washington, N.C., Herbert Covington Bonner was a World War I veteran who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1940 until his death in 1965.

Bonner was instrumental in gaining federal approval of the bridge project to replace the ferry service that was at the time the only connection between Hatteras Island and the rest of Dare County.

The bridge cost just $4 million when it opened in 1963. While the price was split 50-50 between the state and federal government, Bonner also secured $500,000 from the National Park Service to reimburse part of North Carolina’s portion.

Now that the new, $246 million replacement is nearing completion and is expected to open to traffic in early 2019, an opportunity for a possible new legacy could be established.

The current Bonner Bridge has served its purposed for more than a half century, and the name is known the world over. But to some that name may appear tarnished.

Herbert C. Bonner 1956 portrait (House.gov)

From the dredge that knocked out a section in 1990, and tens of millions of dollars spent to keep it safe for a half-century. To the closing in December 2013 due to scour around pilings, and then the blackout last summer during construction of the new bridge.

Talking with current state Transportation Board member Allen Moran and former member Malcolm Fearing, placing a new name on the new bridge has both its merits and drawbacks.

The process is fairly simple, but would have to move fairly quickly before the dedication ceremony that would take place when the bridge opens just after the New Year.

Who it could be named for would also be open for some debate. The person can be either living, or be deceased longer than one year but fewer than 75 years.

An exception to that rule was made for Capt. Richard Etheridge, because his accomplishments were well documented by the federal government.

That allowed for the bridge on Pea Island to be named for the heroic leader of the all-African American lifesaving station near the site of the span at New Inlet.

The NCDOT then has a whole list of other criteria that must be met for a person to be eligible to have a bridge, road or ferry named for them. That person, or their family, must also agree to the honor.

A unanimous resolution passed by the local government body where the bridge stands, and more requirements would have to be met before the nomination could be considered first by the N.C. Transportation Board’s naming committee and then the full board.

So let’s open this up for discussion.

Do you think a new name is needed for the new bridge over Oregon Inlet, and if so, as long as they meet the NCDOT requirements in this link, who should it be named for?

Leave your comments below or send an email to news@outerbanksvoice.com


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Comments

  • Arthur Midgett

    I’m curious as to whom the names are to deserve having the new bridge named after. I have no problem with a new name as long as it were named of someone deserving.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 12:10 pm
  • Perrin Wilkinson Gardner

    Leave it as it is. It will always be known as The Bonner Bridge even if it is a new bridge.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 12:18 pm
  • RBX

    Outer Banks Skyway would seem appropriate

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 12:30 pm
  • Dylan

    We better stick with the current name. It may take years to properly investigate every action, real or alleged, any nominated honoree may or may not have participated in since junior high school. We’ll need another new bridge by then.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 12:38 pm
  • John

    Just the Oregon Inlet Bridge or the OBX Bridge

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 12:45 pm
  • DEBRA

    Keep the same name for the bridge !!

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 12:48 pm
  • Nicholas Artis

    One man who did so much for the Outer Banks while in the NC Senate was Marc Basnight surely he is deserving of the honor.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 1:17 pm
  • Jennifer

    I think it should be named after Marc Basnight. He did so much for this area and Outer Banks community.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 1:24 pm
  • janice clark

    leave it as bonner bridge. as a vistor i know where to go if you talk about bonner bridge

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 1:32 pm
  • 0ldN3ws

    Delbert Melton bridge

    Politicians shouldn’t be eligible as they only do things for their friends and family and not the public.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 1:43 pm
  • Part Time OBX'er

    How about simply: The New H.C. Bonner Bridge

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 1:54 pm
  • Philip

    Name it the Marc Basenight bridge, or the Oregon Inlet Bridge.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 2:06 pm
  • Buxton local

    The autobahn bridge since they drove the cost up by delays and lawsuits. Or how about the southern environmental law center bridge since they finally allowed the building of the bridge after delayin for 10 years

    Actually I like basnight as the name is known and valued

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 2:08 pm
  • Tammy Jennings

    The Bonner Bridge should be named the “Toby Tillett Bridge”. Toby Tillett was the person who established the ferry service that transported people across the inlet until the current bridge was built in the early 1960s.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 3:30 pm
  • Runnerguy45

    The name should honor the fisherman and boat builders of the Outer Banks not a politician.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 3:38 pm
  • Aida Doss Havel

    The Marc Basnight Skyway Bridge.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 3:51 pm
  • linda meyer browning

    They can call the new bridge whatever they want, but to the majority of us locals and hundreds of thousands of visitors, it’s still going to be the Bonner Bridge or the Oregon Inlet Bridge.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 3:55 pm
  • Mark

    I vote to name it Oregon Inlet Bridge.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 4:13 pm
  • Willy c

    I’m for oregon inlet bridge

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 5:33 pm
  • Robin M. Crump

    Since the bridge was built to get on Hatteras Island… Why not The Hatteras Island Bridge?

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 5:42 pm