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

  • Hatteras local

    Marc Basnight

    Friday, Sep 28 @ 8:13 pm
  • Lynn

    Leave it as H C Bonner Bridge…absolutely no reason to name it anything else. Perhaps if it had taken a little different route (and didn’t run absolutely parallel to the original bridge) then maybe it would deserve a new name but it IS the H C Bonner Bridge…only much higher 🙂

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 7:50 am
  • Tommy Clayton

    Easy, Oregon Inlet Bridge

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 8:58 am
  • jackie harris

    Leave it as the Bonner Bridge and if there is a push to name a Bridge for Marc then go ahead with the paper work and name the jug handle bridge for him.

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 9:40 am
  • PaulC

    Seal’s opinion is the only one that makes sense.

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 10:10 am
  • Melodi

    I don’t want it to change but then when I think of what I always call it I realize I don’t ever call it the ‘Bonner Bridge’. I always call it the ‘Oregon Inlet Bridge’. If it were to be changed I think that would be the best. Not after a person.

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 11:24 am
  • R S

    Blackbeard’s Bridge! It needs a name that adds both excitement and legendary history so that a huge proportion of possible visitors can relate to it. We need to pump up the tourism.

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 12:01 pm
  • Frank Owens

    Without any question it should be named the MARC BASNIGHT BRIDGE. He has done more for northeast North Carolina than ANYONE EVER.

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 4:29 pm
  • Allen P.

    Mark Basnight ???? Are you all crazy ???? What he has done for Dare County is caused us to pay millions of dollars in taxes to dredge the Oregon Inlet because he created a law to not allow any more permanent structures to be built extending into the ocean. It was good enough to have him build a pier but not a jetty. This jetty would have saved millions of dollars that are being waisted on dredging. The only thing I would name after him is the Marc Basnight County Landfill

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 6:08 pm
  • Peter N

    Otter Bridge

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 7:15 pm
  • Proud to live here

    Agree with Seal as well. Oregon Inlet Bridge, Bonner Fishing.

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 8:16 pm
  • Reid Mason

    Leave it as is it was named after Bonner for a reason and it shouldn’t be renamed unless for some reason he loses the honor. You have to change maps and landmarks and other historical sites and locals. If you leave it the same that cost nothing. Keep the money local and keep the Bonner name it’s synonymous with the bridge and Oregon inlet and as many have already stated it will always be referred to as Bonner bridge or OIB, leave it alone, it only makes sense.

    Saturday, Sep 29 @ 9:29 pm
  • Windy Bill

    WOW! Dare citizens care deeply about this. After discussion, can this be reduced to a process? Nominations need a petition of 10(?) or ? signatures. Top 3(?) 5(?) go to a primary ballot. Top 2 to a final referendum. What would this cost? Who would receive the nominations? These are state bridges, so NC has the last say, but the County Commissioners, based on this or some process, can make recommendations. What do we think?

    Sunday, Sep 30 @ 1:16 pm
  • Sam Walker

    As the story notes, there is a process.

    Sunday, Sep 30 @ 7:18 pm
  • CorollaCat

    Well done, A.P.

    Sunday, Sep 30 @ 10:14 pm
  • Chris H

    If you must rename the New Bridge , why must it be named after someone ? The Oregon Inlet Bridge sounds appropriate , of course just leaving the name as is works to.

    Monday, Oct 1 @ 8:15 am
  • R S

    Blackbeard’s Bridge

    Monday, Oct 1 @ 9:17 am
  • stella murry

    Mark Basnight, Mac Midgette or just leave it as to avoid confusion.

    Tuesday, Oct 2 @ 1:49 pm
  • Hardy Gillam

    Simple respectful fix. New be named the Bonner-Basnight Bridge.
    The remaining section of the old bridge be named Oregon Inlet Fishing Bridge.

    Tuesday, Oct 2 @ 7:19 pm
  • Katherine

    Marc Basnight ( not sure what his middle initial is )

    Wednesday, Oct 3 @ 11:27 am
  • olin hardy

    The Bill Clinton Bridge!

    Sunday, Oct 7 @ 5:12 pm