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 (

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?

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  • Denise Tolley

    My choices are..The Inlet Bridge or Bonner ll Bridge

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 6:18 pm
  • Dawn

    It has a long interesting history….leave the name alone

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 7:25 pm

    It’s only a replacement..Leave it as The H.C. Bonner Bridge,as it will rightly be called by locals and visitors..I personally have been coming there since 1975..and as will always be The Bonner Bridge..even with a new unnoticed name.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 8:35 pm
  • Frances

    Leave it as is – Bonner Bridge. I and ten thousand others know what your speaking of if you say Bonner Bridge. Doesn’t need a new name.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 9:39 pm
  • Mary

    No, live it as is!

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 9:59 pm
  • Greg Blanton

    If it is renamed it should be the Governor Pat McCrory Bridge since he made it possible for the bridge to be built after years of legal wrangling and inaction by the democrats pandering to the environmentalists.

    Thursday, Sep 27 @ 11:28 pm
  • Morty

    I’ve never thought that public works projects should be named after politicians so I would not keep the Bonner name. I’d prefer simply “Hatteras Bridge” or “Oregon Inlet Bridge”.

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 2:37 am
  • Sandy

    If they are going to change the name. I would love to see it named after a local hero, who was killed over seas while serving his country. He was in Iraq defusing IEDs and went out under enemy fire and rescued two men who were shot, both men survived because of his heroism. He receive the Army’s accommodation Medal with valor for risking his own life for others. He was then killed in Sicily while stationed there. He was an EOD Tech. Did two tours of duty in Iraq. His name is:
    EOD 1 Maurice Lee Quidley Jr. It would be a honor to our family to have him honored and remembered in his home town. He was 36 years old and had served 15 years in the Navy. He was a navigator on a ship called the ( Shiloh) then he cross train over to become an (EOD Tech) Explosive Ordinance and Disposual . He received a equivalent to a masters degree in electrical engineering in 2 1/2 years

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 5:40 am
  • Bob

    Marc Basnight, No one has done more for the area and Eastern NC than Marc !

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 7:01 am
  • Ronnie

    We all know of the great contributions Mark made for Eastern NC, but Mark is still among the living. Naming the bridge after Mark would be more appropriate as a memorial to the man who did so much for us.
    Leave the bridge name alone for now.

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 9:08 am
  • Anne Shellie

    Blackout Bridge

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 9:08 am
  • JOE

    Not sure that the name needs to be changed .
    Lots if good suggestions. I think Mark Basnight is a very good choice . He cares about the Outer Banks and the residents who live here . He has worked hard to make the OBX is a great place.
    I do have another person that loved the Outer Banks.
    His name Andy Griffith .
    From teaching and being in the Lost Colony he became a big time star.
    He could have lived anywhere ,but choose to live in Manteo.
    Could be The Andy Griffith Bridge
    Or the AGB

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 10:05 am
  • Seal

    Absolutely no Politicians !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Keep it simple and relate to what it is “The Oregon Inlet Bridge” !!!
    And let the portion of the old bridge that is being converted for a fishing access retain the name “H.C Bonner Fishing Access” !!!

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 10:29 am
  • Local

    Marc Basnight bridge!

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 2:13 pm
  • surf123

    We need to stop naming roads, bridges, buildings, etc for people. Times change and what was acceptable is no longer so. And as we have seen with the Supreme Court nominee things can come to life 40 years later and whether they are true or not. If things are only named after geographic landmarks, commonly accepted references, etc then no one will ever be disappointed or offended by it. No one person is worthy of having anything named after them. I would guess that most people that are the caliber of person who an object would be named for would probably prefer it not be because they are not vain.

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 2:50 pm
  • martha t beatty

    Sounds like a lot of time and money will be wasted to pursue a new name. I’m sure our legislators have more pressing issues to discuss. Besides, in the end, we’re all going to call it the New Bonner bridge.

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 2:55 pm
  • Howard Zeitlin

    Since the Bridge goes over Oregon Inlet….why not name it for a Fisherman that made it FAMOUS….Ommie Tillet.

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 4:10 pm
  • Arthur Pewty

    Might I humbly suggest The Arthur Pewty Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial SkyLine Bridge. You’re welcome. AP

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 5:47 pm
  • Salvo Jimmy

    Well speaking of bridge names, let’s include the “jug handle” around the S-Curve.

    Something related to the Mirlo rescue seems appropriate for it.

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 6:56 pm
  • Elaine

    I’ve seen suggestions for Toby Tillett, who established the ferry service that ran prior to the bridge’s construction; as well as Maurice Quidley, Jr., a local servicemember who seems to have been an amazing man. Both of these I like.

    Or we could call it the Mirlo Centennial Bridge, although it will be completed a bit later than the actual centennial… Honor an event that is well-documented and shows the character of Hatteras Islanders best.

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 8:13 pm