RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A bridge that North Carolina first put on its transportation wish list almost 30 years ago is scheduled to open in 2019, giving tourists to Hatteras Island and its residents a more certain connection to the mainland.

The new 2.8-mile-long Bonner Bridge across the Oregon Inlet along the Outer Banks is expected to open in February or March. It was scheduled to open in December, but hurricane threats caused delays although the storms didn't hit the area.

Court battles delayed the bridge much longer than threats from tropical storms. Construction finally began in March 2016.

The new $252 million bridge will run parallel to the original one, which was designed to last 30 years when it was built in 1963.  The new bridge has a life expectancy of 100 years