The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge has reopened, 110 days after Hatteras Island's only link to the North Carolina mainland was severed by a dredge that crashed into the span during a storm.

Motorists began crossing the bridge shortly after 6 p.m. EST Tuesday. Thad Pledger, a Dare County deputy who first warned motorists of the bridge's collapse last fall, was the first to cross the span.Local officials attending a ceremony on the bridge said the event represented a reopening of the area's economic lifeline.

Outer Banks merchants are hoping the bridge's reopening will give the local economy a boost. The bridge was damaged Oct. 26 during the fall fishing season, which usually brings a large number of tourists to Hatteras Island.