Passage under old Bonner Bridge is too shallow to dredge

By on November 27, 2018

Monday’s survey showed depths as little as 2 feet. (USAC)

Dredging on the east side of the Bonner Bridge may not be happening anytime soon.

A survey of Oregon Inlet last week showed a large shoal has formed directly east of the navigation span, with depths of less than 4 feet at mean low water.

Monday’s survey by the Army Corps of Engineers showed that the shoaling had worsened, with depths as little as 2 feet under the navigation span.

Smaller boats take routes between unprotected pilings to the south, but the Coast Guard discourages the practice. The navigation span is flanked by wooded fenders than can cushion boats if they stray from the channel.

A sidecasting dredge is the smallest that can work in the channel, and it generally operates in around 5 feet of water.

The new bridge is set to open soon. The navigation spans are wider and over the south side of the inlet, where the water depth can be more than 20 feet.

We’re checking with the Corps to see if there are any immediate plans to try to open the old passage, which will still be necessary until the original bridge is torn down, which will take more than a year.

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That would be a great bumper sticker for the Corps,

olin hardy

This is a total disaster on the part of the Corp of engineers , Trump should step in and call them on the carpet!

The Captain

To Steve and Randy, your views are TEXTBOOK and fail to take in the real effect on the Outer Banks. the Fishing Industry, the Tourism and the Health of our Sounds. I also would guess you would say that Houses should have NEVER been built on the Oceanfront. I would question your connection to the Outer Banks. Do you live and work here? How would you be affected by a closed inlet? Think about it. Enjoy your imported Seafood.


Jetties and groins only add to the erosion issues. Just look at the Buxton groins as well as the northern states mentioned that use jetties.
The inlet-outlet needs to be able to shift and move. Water depths at the south end are usually over 40 feet.

Ironic Development

When the inlet becomes so filled that it can’t be dredged – like now – it will be declared to no longer be a navigable waterway and the Corps of Engineers will no longer have a responsibility to dredge it; hence, the government’s problem will have been solved and those who’s livelihood suffers as a result bedamned. They argued for 30 years about a north jetty before finally deciding against it; if the south jetty was seen to be necessary and has worked so effectively, why couldn’t they realize the value of the north jetty? It’s all about money, power… Read more »


Groins-jetties are proven to increase erosion. The inlet wants to shift south but is being prevented. Water depths are over 40′.
This inlet is supposed to shift, to close and reopen, or to close and open in another location.
The main inlet-outlet for Hatteras was near Avon, but that was quickly filled in so that Hatteras village could be home to the fishing fleet. A political move.
The next outlet to form will be the historical Chicimacomico inlet.

Browny Douglas

” Fiasco” is a kind way to say SNAFU but very appropriately stated. While all of those who “have a say” carry on their daily activities the individual, the counties, the state and nation suffer the consequences of their inactions to do the RIGHT thing. Commerce is strangled without a safe navigable inlet. Simultaneously the bathtub runneth over. Not good for the human or marine species. In the interim of time the environmental community chooses to let Oregon Outlet choke the natural life out of NC’S 2 1/2 million acres of estuaries and free market productivity. Yes the old bridge… Read more »

The Captain

Jetties, Jetties, Jetties! For WW the answer is simply the Government fighting the Government. You have three Federal Departments that all have different Agendas. The Army Corps of Engineers, The National Park Service, The Fish and Wildlife Service all have a say.
Then you have the Big Money Environmental Organizations that have a say. For example look at the complete Boondoggle regarding the permitting and building of the new Bridge. Then you have the STATE. A complete fiasco.


Never understood how jettys work great for Ocean City Md , Virginia etc but here its taboo. They should have taken down the old bridge and made the jetties .

Beach Bum

Been fishing the bridge for 20+ years. Almost impossible to fish the bridge pilings north of the main channel on an incoming tide now. Too rough due to shoaling. That has never been the case. 100 million dollars of beach nourishment sand + the predominate long shore north to south current and you end up with a mess in the inlet. It is a no-brainer. Inevitable that it was going to happen. All that sand was going to end up somewhere.

Thinking About the Future

It would be great if someone could explain the big picture here for boats, both pleasure and commercial, going in and out of the inlet with regard to this issue.

Thanks in advance.

The Captain

This is serious. I don’t understand how the Army Corp or anybody could let it get to this point. I’m not even going to the sorrow tale that the channel is supposed to be maintained at 14 feet by the Federal Government. A Government Scam. Try fighting City Hall. People don’t understand that trying to get out to the South of the Main Channel is very dangerous for all Charter and Commercial Boats. The space between the Pilings on the old bridge are very narrow and that together with a raging current equals VERY DANGEROUS. In addition Charter and Commercial… Read more »

Peregrine White

Needed: Takeover of North shore of Oregon Inlet by Dare County, Jetty with “sand tunnel,” two sections of old bridge as for fishing.


Need jetty’s! It will save tax payers millions

I hate that this is still a problem. I will be so glad when the new bridge is fully functional and the old bridge can be put to good use as a “reef.”