Coast Guard regulates navigation in Oregon Inlet to safeguard mariners, Herbert C. Bonner Bridge

5th Coast Guard District News
The Coast Guard established a temporary regulated navigation area Thursday for the navigable waters surrounding the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge in North Carolina.

The RNA allows the Coast Guard to impose vessel traffic restrictions within Oregon Inlet to safeguard vessels from shoaling and to reduce the risk of a bridge strike. The Coast Guard will impose restrictions only when necessary based on inlet conditions, and will provide the public with as much advance notice as possible.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation reports pile supports of the Bonner Bridge have suffered significant section loss and are continually exposed to substructure erosion.

The Bonner Bridge has a fixed channel span with a clearance of 65 feet that crosses Oregon Inlet. When shoaling impacts safe navigation through the fixed channel span, mariners have attempted to transit through alternate spans, which do not have a bridge fender and protection system. A bridge strike to an unprotected element of the Bonner Bridge may endanger motorists and mariners or affect the structural stability of the bridge. This could cause harm to local businesses and residents of Hatteras Island should damage to the bridge impact safe vessel navigation or vehicular traffic.

The Coast Guard continually monitors local environmental conditions and imposes vessel traffic restrictions tailored to the transportation risk. These restrictions may prohibit vessels of certain drafts, displacements, tonnages or length from navigating through alternate bridge spans.

The Coast Guard invites public feedback and will consider comments in development of a final regulation. Public comments must be received by the Coast Guard on or before Feb. 17, 2015.  The full interim rule can be found and commented on at http://ift.tt/1wZgsnp

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