BRADENTON, Fla. - The North Carolina Department of Transportation closed the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet along the Outer Banks on Dec. 3 citing safety concerns.

Plans to replace the 50-year-old bridge have stalled due to an Oct. 1 environmental group’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that would have allowed construction to begin on a $215.8 million parallel bridge. A project permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Division of Coastal Management is also being challenged.

NCDOT said recent inspections of the 2.5-mile-long Bonner Bridge found areas where too much sand eroded from the support structure and other problems, prompting immediate closure and the declaration of emergency to expedite repairs.

While the bridge is closed the state’s Ferry Division will move people and cars across the Pamlico Sound.

Construction of the new bridge was delayed by an appeal filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Defenders of Wildlife and National Wildlife Refuge claiming that the state wants to build a “patchwork” of bridges and highway in the Atlantic Ocean’s tidal zone and surf.

State officials have said environmentalists are advocating for a longer, 17-mile-long bridge that would cost as much as $1.15 billion.

Two other high-profile North Carolina road projects, including one that was bond financed, also have been delayed by environmental appeals.

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