Bonner Bridge was built in 1963 and was the only
access route across the Oregon Inlet.
No longer serving as the building blocks of the Bonner
Bridge, the concrete pieces will be placed at four
separate reef sites.
Built in 1963, the Bonner Bridge, as
it’s typically called, was the only access route across the Oregon Inlet. Over
the years, the harsh marine climate weathered the Bonner Bridge, requiring it
to pass its duties to the next bridge in line.
The Marc Basnight Bridge was up for
the challenge. The new superstructure, built by PCL, provides a safer access
route across the inlet. Following the bridge’s opening in February 2019, the
team embarked on demolition of the old Bonner Bridge, which was a perfect candidate
for the creation of artificial reefs because it checked off four, important
criteria put in place by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries:
function, compatibility, durability and stability.
In total, 70,000 tons of concrete
will be recycled from the old bridge and used to create marine habitats in the
form of artificial reefs. These concrete pieces, 60 feet long and weighing
between 20 and 100 tons each, will be placed at four separate reef sites. The
artificial reef sites range in size from 10 to 22 acres and are up to 12 miles
offshore from the bridge’s original location.
Diving into the Facts
Artificial reefs can be made from vessels,
pipes, concrete castings or demolished concrete and are crucial to the area
because of the lack of natural reefs on the relatively flat ocean floor.
Instead of being discarded, these
recycled materials set out for a greater purpose. No longer serving as the
building blocks of bridges, structures or even ships, the materials are
revamped to become home to hundreds of ocean species, while also reducing
These solid construction materials
are preferred because they can weather harsh storms and provide small,
protective spaces for local marine life to flourish.
Bridging a Gap
The community’s strong fishing and
diving culture mean it is important to maintain these reefs and add new ones to
the coast. Demolitions, like that of the Bonner Bridge, serve multiple purposes
and benefit both the local economy and fish populations.