Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Is the Bonner Bridge Crumbling Down?

WAVY TV 10 aired a special report this week on the need to replace the aging Bonner and the stacks of paperwork that continue to build on how to go about doing it. It was noted that exposed rebar, cracked pilings and plenty of patch jobs are just some of the problems with the Bridge. The report highlighted Governor Easley’s August 2007 letter to the Secretary of the Interior in which he stated the bridge is “one of the most deficient bridges across the state.” Although state and federal agencies were prepared to sign off on a 17.5 mile long bridge to Rodanthe in July of 2003, Dare County Commissioners and Senator Marc Basnight stepped in and opposed the plan. They then proposed building a shorter bridge, parallel to the Bonner Bridge in a phased approach – a series of bridges to built over 30 years. NC DOT rep Ernie Seneca was quoted during the broadcast, “We feel the phased approach is the best way to deal with the changing environment and this allows for flexibility and how best to proceed throughout the process.” Senator Marc Basnight was also featured saying that the issue to replace the bridge boils down to cash – “the state has the $300 million to build the short bridge but the $1.4 billion price tag is out of the question.” The report ended with information that a final environmental statement on the project is expected next Spring and that the state is going to spend $40 million to make repairs to the bridge to extend its life by 10-years.

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