Oregon Inlet is spanned by North Carolina Route 12 over the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, a 2.7-mile (4.3 km) bridge built in 1963. Prior to the building of the bridge, Hatteras Island was only accessible by air or ferry. Ferries could carry a maximum of 2,000 people per day. The ferries cost the state $500,000 per year to operate, and there were very long lines waiting for the ferries during peak season.
The Bonner Bridge cost $4 million to build and moves up to 14,000 cars a day in both directions. Of that amount, the state of North Carolina paid $1.5 million, and the federal government paid $2.5 million. The arrangement for a portion of the state's cost to be paid by the National Park Service was arranged by Rep. Herbert C. Bonner, for whom the bridge is named.