VIDEO: With a nod to Bonner, governor and dignitaries dedicate Basnight Bridge

Gov. Cooper (center) surrounded by Basnight family members, local, state, federal officials and key community members. [NCDOT]

Gov. Roy Cooper, N.C. Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon and a host of Outer Banks leaders on Tuesday afternoon cut the ribbon on the Marc Basnight Bridge over Oregon Inlet.

Basnight Bridge dedication:

Posted by OBX Today on Tuesday, April 2, 2019

“Throughout his service Marc Basnight was a champion for everyday people and his beloved Outer Banks,” Cooper said. “This new bridge that bears his name will be a critical link for Outer Banks residents and visitors for generations.”

Outer Banks business and civil leader Malcolm Fearing opened the ceremony dedicating the new Basnight Bridge. [Kari Pugh photo]
The new bridge is named for Basnight, an Outer Banks native and small businessman who was elected to the state senate in 1984 and served as president pro tempore of the senate from 1993-2010. As a state senator, Basnight worked to improve transportation on the Outer Banks, and championed environmental and educational initiatives across the state.

The new bridge was officially named the Marc Basnight Bridge with Tuesday’s rainy ribbon cutting ceremony. The $252 million bridge opened to traffic Feb. 25. It replaces the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which opened in 1964 and greatly outlived its 30-year lifespan.

More than 100 engineers were involved in the planning and design of the bridge, which is built to last more than 100 years. It is the first bridge in the state to be built with stainless reinforcing steel, which will help it better withstand the harsh saltwater environment. With pilings embedded as deep as 130 feet into the bottom of Oregon Inlet, it is capable of withstanding up to 84 feet of scour, which is when sand is washed away from the pilings. It also will provide safer passage in and out of the inlet for marine traffic, providing seven navigational spans compared to just one under the Bonner Bridge.

“This bridge is a testament to what can be accomplished when people come together for a common cause,” Trogdon said. “The people of the Outer Banks never lost faith and never stopped advocating for this bridge, because it is their lifeline.”

Honor guard at Tuesday’s dedication and ribbon cutting for the Basnight Bridge. [Kari Pugh photo]
Now that the new bridge is open to traffic, crews have begun the process of dismantling the Bonner Bridge. Part of the bridge will be used as offshore reef sites. About 1,000 feet of the bridge will be left in place as a pedestrian walkway and will retain the Bonner name. Bonner, who was from eastern North Carolina, served as a U.S. Congressman from 1940 to 1965. The demolition process is expected to be complete within the next year.

The new bridge dwarfs the original Bonner Bridge as it crosses Oregon Inlet. [Kari Pugh photo]