Though all that’s required to open the Bonner Bridge replacement to the public is a little paint, the weather has not cooperated in the past week, which has resulted in a slight delay.
The bridge itself is ready for vehicular traffic, however the roadways leading to the bridge need to be marked with yellow lines in order to direct vehicles to the new structure.
“We are still just waiting on painting the lines,” said NCDOT Public Relations Officer Tim Haas. “We just need [a couple] days without rain in order for the paint to dry.”
The past week’s weather has not provided a dry spell, with sporadic rain occurring nearly every single day. It looks like this trend will continue over the weekend, with the next continually sunny days forecast for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of early next week.
When the bridge opens, both lanes will be open to vehicles, and all traffic will be diverted from the old bridge to the new structure.
Though the Bonner Bridge replacement will open before the event, an official “grand opening” and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for April 2. A number of state and local officials are planning to attend the ribbon cutting, which includes Governor Roy Cooper.
A Community Day celebration on February 9 attracted roughly 1,000 residents and visitors, (despite ice cold temperatures and strong winds), who took advantage of the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be among the first to walk or bike along the bridge.
At 2.8 miles long and 90-feet high, the new bridge has a 100-year life, and will provide more options for navigation under the bridge, with a high-rise portion that is 3,500 feet long. The bridge is expected to open almost exactly three years after the project first broke ground in March of 2016.
Once the new bridge is operational, crews will then get to work removing the current Bonner Bridge just east of the new site, leaving behind 1,000 feet of the existing structure at the southern end for pedestrians and anglers, and sending the old bridge debris to bolster artificial reef sites in Oregon Inlet.
The project in its entirety is set to be completed by the end of 2019 or early 2020, which includes about 10 months for the demolition of the original bridge.