The NC Department of Transportation closed the Herbert C Bonner Bridge yesterday afternoon due to safety concerns after routine scanning of the bridge identified areas where too much sand had eroded from the support structures.  The Bonner Bridge originally opened in 1963 and was said to have a 30-year life span.  Funding for the bridge has long since been approved, and in August 2011, NCDOT had awarded a contract to a design-build team to replace the bridge.  However, a series of legal challenges has left the project in limbo.  Preliminary estimates suggest a 3 - 4 month period for the repairs to be completed.  NCDOT has declared a state of emergency to help expedite the repairs.  The Southern Environmental Law Center has been behind the legal challenges that have prevented the start of the new bridge.  Call them at 919-967-1450 if you are a concerned citizen!  Or visit their website at