Record of decision on Bonner
Bridge replacement is delayed again
has again been delayed on the construction of a safe transportation
corridor to connect the northern and southern regions of Dare County.
hearing of this latest delay during discussions with North Carolina
Department of Transportation (NCDOT), Dare County officials expressed
extreme disappointment since a Record of Decision (ROD) was expected
any day with a promise that construction would begin this year.
most recent delay comes following a decision by NCDOT to alter the
Preferred Alternative, known as the “short parallel bridge with
phased development on Pea Island,” to include the initial
construction of the replacement bridge at Oregon Inlet as planned but
with future phases being built as needed based on the conditions at the
of this unexpected change, there is now a need for an Environmental
Assessment that will delay the Record of Decision (ROD) until
June. Construction of the new bridge will not begin until the
spring of 2011 at the earliest.
and state agencies have done environmental studies over and over again
since 1993 when the replacement bridge was first due to be
constructed,” commented Allen Burrus, a businessman from
Hatteras Island who serves as vice chairman of the Dare County Board of
Commissioners. “The Department of Transportation’s
recommendation to replace the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet and
create a series of elevated roadway segments over hotspots along Pea
Island in phases is the least environmentally damaging and the most
economical plan. Let’s get moving on this before people get
August 2007, an interagency group reached concurrence that the
“phased approach”� was the Least Environmentally Damaging
Practicable Alternative. Joining NCDOT in this decision were the N.C.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Federal Highway
Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
to Beth Midgett, who chairs a citizen’s committee to replace the
bridge, “The nor’easter last fall underscores the urgency
for NCDOT to begin work on the construction of a safer and more secure
transportation corridor between northern Dare County and Hatteras
Island. The storm destroyed approximately 800 feet of Route 12 road
surface at the S-curves just north of Rodanthe stopping traffic for
five days while NCDOT crews worked day and night to reopen the
County said in a media release, “Special interest groups have
stalled and delayed the replacement of the Bonner Bridge. The
groups advocate a 17-mile bridge, which would make it one of the
longest structures in the world. The costs for a bridge of
length are so great that there is no reasonable expectation that the
project could be funded now or for the foreseeable future.
long bridge would also prevent visitors and traffic access to Pea
Island Wildlife Refuge, a favorite vacation spot for fishermen, bird
watchers, families, surfers and, ironically, environmentalists.”
environmental groups have recommended that a toll be charged on the
17-mile bridge to offset construction costs, as is planned for the
mid-county bridge in Currituck County.
charge our residents as much as $50 per day to travel to and from their
jobs or our visitors to visit the lighthouse in Buxton is
offensive,” commented Dare County Commission Chairman Warren
Judge. “The mid-county bridge in Currituck is a matter of
providing an optional route for the convenience of visitors to Corolla;
whereas, we are concerned with maintaining the only safe transportation
corridor for our residents’ safety, health and welfare.”