World

Construction of new Outer Banks bridge attracts sightseers

NAGS HEAD, N.C. — Construction of a North Carolina bridge to replace the one that links isolated Hatteras Island to the mainland is attracting sightseers even though it’s not quite halfway finished.

Dare County commissioner Danny Couch tells The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va., that people enjoy crossing the old Bonner Bridge, stopping on the sandy roadside, and taking photos of the new structure.

‘‘It’s going to be one of the single biggest attractions down here just to cross it,’’ Couch said. ‘‘It’s absolutely fascinating.’’

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The $250 million span across the Oregon Inlet along North Carolina’s Outer Banks will be 2.8 miles long. It’s scheduled to open in late 2018.

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Engineers ran the design through more than 100,000 computer simulations of the 45 worst storms to strike the Outer Banks in the past 160 years, the newspaper reported.

No other bridge in North Carolina is quite like the Bonner Bridge replacement, said Pablo Hernandez, the bridge’s engineer.

‘‘It is a civil engineer’s dream to work on a project like this,’’ Hernandez said. ‘‘The people here depend on Highway 12.’’

Both residents and tourists have waited years for the new bridge, which was delayed by legal wrangling and budget concerns. When the original Bonner Bridge was built in 1963, it had an expected life span of 30 years.

Associated Press