Island Free Press: Work continues to open the Bonner Pier in the fall

New railings along the Bonner Bridge section being converted into a fishing pier. [NCDOT photo]

By Joy Crist, Island Free Press
Though an official opening date is still unknown, work to open the new Bonner Pier to the public in the fall of 2021 continues, with a number of items that still need to be completed before the pier can welcome anglers and sightseers.

“There is a lot of additional work that needs to be done to the parking area,” said David Hallac, National Parks of Eastern North Carolina Superintendent.

“Over the years, as construction has occurred, a lot of sand and mud has washed into the parking lot,” Hallac said. “There are somewhere between 65 and 75 parking spaces, but some of the parking spaces, and even the exit lane, are being used by contractors who are completing bridge demolition and other construction activities related to the bridge, so several trailers and equipment are taking up some of those places.”

“In addition, some of the parking spots are not usable because of the sand and mud that has spilled into the parking lot, so we need to get front end loaders, and recreate the borders of the parking area.”

Other tasks that still need to be completed include finding accessible spots for dumpsters and port-a-potties, installing new signage as well as a new webcam, adding trash cans to the site, and re-painting the lines in the parking lot, once it has been cleared of debris.

“There’s just a lot of additional work that needs to be done before it can open, and we’re looking at opening sometime this fall, and within the next couple of months,” said Hallac, who went to the site with a team of 15 people on Tuesday to clear the area of stray trash and garbage in the parking area. “When all is said and done, we hope to have about 70 usable parking spaces.”

The “new” 1,046-ft. structure is actually a remaining section of the former Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which was intentionally left intact to serve as an observation and fishing pier.

The Bonner Pier project, which is a collaboration between the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the North Carolina Department of Transportation, will also feature an ADA accessible walkway to the pier, and provide easy sightseeing and fishing access on the southern side of Oregon Inlet.

The pier will be managed by the National Park Service, and more details on the operations of the pier will be announced in the coming months.

Until work is complete and the pier is officially open to visitors, the public is reminded not to walk on the pier, and to avoid the adjacent construction areas and equipment.

The original Bonner Bridge was built in 1963 and was replaced by the current Marc Basnight Bridge, which opened to traffic in February of 2019.