Dare County, N.C. (WTKR) - The U.S. Coast Guard is flexing expanded powers in the Oregon Inlet to protect boaters and the Bonner Bridge.
A "temporary regulated navigation area" was established by the Coast Guard in mid-December.
That allows the Coast Guard to impose vessel restrictions in order to protect boaters from shoaling operations and lessen the likelihood of a bridge strike, according to a news release.
According to that release, the restrictions will only be in place when required by inlet conditions and the Coast Guard hopes to give as much advanced notice as possible.
As shoaling efforts continue in the Oregon Inlet, the Coast Guard reports that boaters have tried to pass under the Bonner Bridge at spans other than the fixed channel span.
That poses a risk to the aging Bonner Bridge because the alternate spans do not have a bridge fender and protection system and a strike to the Bonner could endanger cars traveling over it and impact the structural stability of the bridge.
The Bonner Bridge is the only highway link to and from Hatteras Island.
Replacing the Bonner Bridge, which opened in 1963, has been tied-up in legal litigation for years.
The Coast Guard will take public feedback on developing a final regulation until February 17, 2015.
You can Take Action and comment on the full interim rule here.
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