Nov 20, 5:29 PM EST

Utility work begins on replacement span for Bonner Bridge

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- State officials say utility work is underway on the replacement for the Bonner Bridge, the 52-year-old span that crosses the Oregon Inlet.

Gov. Pat McCrory said in a news release Friday that the by Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative has begun. Construction of the 3.5-mile span is expected to begin in the spring and take about three years to complete.

In June, state transportation officials and environmental groups reached an agreement allowing for construction of the new bridge, which will run parallel to the current one. The project had been delayed for years by legal wrangling and budget concerns.

When the bridge was built in 1963, it had an expected life span of 30 years.

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