Hatteras Island has effectively become locals only since the unexpected closure of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, the only link between the barrels of S Turns and the rest of the United States. Immediate closure resulted from a routine sonar inspection which revealed the turbulent inlet waters had scoured away the sand at the base of bridge supports.
"They just closed the bridge onto Cape Hatteras for repairs and replaced it with a 2 1/2 hour ferry ride. Although that really sucks for residents of the island who depend on the bridge, it does mean that there will be lots of uncrowded waves for those of us that live here." Pete Hardie said.
They just closed the bridge onto Cape Hatteras and replaced it with a 2 1/2 hour ferry ride. Although that really sucks for residents of the island who depend on the bridge, it does mean that there will be lots of uncrowded waves for those of us that live here.Pete Hardie
Transportation Secretary, Tony Tata, said that engineers feared the bridge would collapse. "When the engineers told me it was unsafe, I made the decision to close. This bridge is standing on borrowed time."
This surfer barrel boon comes at a cost for local businesses reliant upon tourist footfall and recriminations are starting to fly. The Bonner Bridge is the only highway access to Hatteras and has been at the centre of a series of legal challenges since replacement was mooted back in the early 1990s.
"Their plan is going to turn a rare and unique wildlife refuge into a 50-year construction zone," Julie Youngman, attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, an organisation opposed to the current bridge replacement plans.
Tata is reported as saying, "These ivory tower elitists file these lawsuits from their air-conditioned offices in Chapel Hill. And they do so with their lattes and their contempt, and chuckle while the good people of the Outer Banks are fighting hard to scratch out a living here based on tourism and based on access.”
Whatever the ins-and-outs of the blame game, it's a win-win for resident surfer barrel counts. "Dedicated surfers are bringing their boat over to REAL, docking it in the boat basin, staying here and scoring epic surf." Pete told us.
It looks like a winter to remember on Hatteras Island. For a stalwart few.