Naming bridge for Capt. Etheridge clears a major hurdle

By on August 4, 2017

A photo from around 1890 shows the Pea Island crew with Capt. Richard Etheridge on the far left. (USCG)

A movement to name a new bridge on N.C. 12 after Capt. Richard Etheridge, the first African-American to command a U.S. Life-Saving Service station, has passed a major hurdle and appears well on its way to becoming a reality.

At the Aug. 3 meeting of the North Carolina Board of Transportation meeting, Chairman Michael Fox informed the board that the Road, Bridge and Ferry Naming Committee had unanimously voted on Aug. 1 to name the N.C. 12 Pea Island Interim Bridge for Etheridge.

The bridge will replace one that was quickly built over a breach created by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

The action was unanimously approved by the committee and will be brought before the full Board of Transportation at its next meeting Sept. 6 and 7.

Work is under way on the bridge, which will take N.C. 12 over a breach created by Hurricane Irene. (Dare County)

Fox said to the board, “I think you will find this one not only overwhelmingly due for your support, but also very interesting from a historical perspective.”

District 1 representative Alan Moran told the Voice about the decision.

The movement to name the bridge began under Moran’s predecessor, Malcolm Fearing, who first floated the idea in early 2017.

Fearing presented the idea to the Dare County Board of Commissioners in February and that body unanimously approved a resolution in support of naming the bridge after Etheridge.

In May, the Voice reported that a group of students at Kitty Hawk Elementary School had sent close to 70 letters to the Department of Transportation urging the board to name the bridge after Etheridge.

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  • Bruce Hilpert

    I am very glat to hear of this. Congratulations. But, why not name the “New Bonner Bridge” after Mr. Etheridge?

    Friday, Aug 4 @ 9:57 pm
  • Sandy Semans

    Excellent! He should have been recognized a long time ago. Because he was the son of a slave owner, he was taught to read and write and his letters are fascinating. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War while his wife lived in the Freedmen’s Colony on Roanoke Island. He wrote letters to the military complaining about not receiving his pay and thus his family was struggling to survive. After the war, he went west and became a Buffalo Soldier before returning to the Outer Banks. There is some information about him at Island Farm on Roanoke Island which is the old Etheridge homeplace. We need to share much more of our history which extended well beyond the lost colony.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 9:01 am
  • Joan collins

    This is really great news. As a descendant of the Pea Island Lifesavers, I am especially glad of this important step taken in naming the bridge after Richard Etheridge.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 11:17 am
  • T.W. Mangrove

    The location of the “New” New Inlet Bridge is in the area of responsibility that was covered by Keeper Etheridge and his Surfmen at the Pea Island LSS.

    Saturday, Aug 5 @ 3:37 pm