June 26, 2010

Meetings will prepare public to comment on Bonner Bridge replacement

By IRENE NOLAN



Dare County’s Citizen Action Committee to replace the Bonner Bridge, www.replacethebridgenow.com, is planning meetings to help the public prepare comments on the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Environmental Assessment (EA) on replacing the aging span over Oregon Inlet.

The EA is the latest in years of environmental studies about the bridge, which is rated a 2 on a scale of 1 to 100, but is said by DOT to be safe for the public to cross.

The newest study includes a new preferred alternative that recommends building a new parallel bridge, next to the existing structure, as quickly as possible.

The highlights of the new preferred alternative are:

•    Eliminating the Pamlico Sound Bridge alternative, known as the “Long Bridge.”
•    Reducing impact to Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station and Rodanthe Historic District.
•    Modifying the location where the new bridge will connect to Hatteras Island.
•    Recommending a new preferred alternative known as the “Parallel Bridge with N.C. 12 Transportation Management Plan.”  It calls for the new Oregon Inlet Bridge to be built as soon as possible, while information generated by a coastal monitoring program would determine what to build along Highway 12 in future phases.

DOT will have a series of open house sessions and public hearings in Dare County about the latest plans on July 6, 7, and 8. 

There will be information sessions for the public these days in Manteo, Rodanthe, and Buxton. The public can comment at two of the meetings -- on July 6 at Manteo and July 8 in Buxton. 

The public can also comment by mail or e-mail on Aug. 9.


After it receives public comment, the DOT will decide if it will proceed with a Record of Decision on the preferred alternative or if it must conduct another Supplement to the Draft Environmental Statement on the bridge replacement.


The Citizen’s Committee to Replace the Bridge is gearing up to get information to the public on when and where and how to comment – commenting at the hearings or submitting written comments.


According to the committee’s chairperson, Beth Midgett, printed material for the public awareness campaign has been updated. The website, www.replacethebridgenow.com, has also been updated with new information.


The committee has also scheduled three "meet and greet" sessions to help educate islanders and visitors alike on the process, Midgett said.  More may be scheduled later.

The scheduled meetings are:

•    Monday, June 28, at 7 p.m. at the Hatteras Village Civic Center, sponsored by the Hatteras Village Civic Association.

•    Tuesday, June 29, at 7 p.m. at the Ocracoke School Commons.

•    Wednesday, June 30, at 7 p.m. at the Avon Volunteer Fire Department, sponsored by the Avon Property Owners Association and the Greater Kinnakeet Shores Property Owners.


Midgett said the committee also needs volunteers to distribute materials and set up and man "booths" at various public locations in order to collect public comment cards over the next month.  Individuals can contact Beth at this e-mail address:[email protected].

“It's really imperative to get as many comments as possible submitted in support of moving the project forward to a Record of Decision,” Midgett said. “The other alternative would be that NCDOT would have to do yet another draft supplement to the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), publish it, put it out for public comment, respond to public comment, then release a Final Supplement to the Final Environmental Impact Statement publish it, put it out for public comment, respond to public comment, then release a"Record of Decision.

“If the latter occurs it would significantly and adversely affect the timeline for the replacement of the bridge,” she added.  “We cannot afford any further delays!”


NCDOT PUBLIC MEETINGS AND MAKING COMMENT

Citizens can ask NCDOT questions and share their comments about the project’s plans during several upcoming meetings:

•    Tuesday, July 6
o    A pre-hearing open house will be held at the Dare County Administration Building, which is located at 954 Marshall Collins Drive in Manteo, from 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

o    A formal public hearing will take place in the county commissioners’ room at 7 p.m.

•    Wednesday, July 7
o    A pre-hearing open house will be held at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center, which is located at 23186 Myrna Peters Road in Rodanthe, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. No public comment period on this evening.

•    Thursday, July 8
o    A pre-hearing open house will be held at Cape Hatteras Elementary School, which is located at 47500 Middle Ridge Trail in Buxton, from 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

o    A formal public hearing will take place in the school’s cafeteria at 7 p.m.

Citizens are invited to drop in at any time during the pre-hearing open houses. NCDOT staff members will be available to discuss the proposed project and accept written comments.

The formal public hearings will consist of a presentation by NCDOT and then a public comment period. Those interested in speaking can sign up at the open houses or by calling the project’s toll-free information line, 1-866-803-0529, or e-mailing NCDOT Human Environment Unit Head Drew Joyner at [email protected]. Speakers will be asked to limit their comments to three minutes to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to ask questions and express their thoughts.

Citizens who cannot attend the meetings but would like to provide comments can mail them to Drew Joyner, Human Environment Unit Head, NCDOT, 1598 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1598. They may also call or e-mail their comments to Drew Joyner at (919) 431-6700 or [email protected]. Comments will be accepted through Aug. 9.

NCDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, and other agencies will review the comments received and then determine if additional environmental studies are needed.

To read the Environmental Assessment and view the project maps, visit the NCDOT Web site or the Outer Banks Task Force Web site. Copies of the Environmental Assessment are also available at the following locations:


•    Dare County Planning and Inspections Satellite Office 49815 Highway 12 in Frisco.

•    NCDOT Resident Engineer’s Office 349 Waterplant Road, Unit B Manteo

•    Dare County Public Library 700 U.S. 64/264 Manteo

•    Dare County Public Library 56658 Highway 12 Hatteras

•    Dare County Public Library 400 Mustian St. Kill Devil Hills

•    Fessenden Recreation Center 46830 Highway 12 Buxton

Copies of the maps are available at the Dare County Planning and Inspections Satellite Office in Frisco and the NCDOT Resident Engineer’s Office in Manteo.

NCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who wish to participate in these meetings. Anyone requiring special services should contact Drew Joyner using the contact information above as early as possible, so arrangements can be made.


FOR MORE INFORMATION


The Editor’s Blog: Replacing the Bonner Bridge may be back on track
http://islandfreepress.org/PivotBlog/pivot/entry.php?id=98#body

Dare County Citizen’s Committee to Replace the Bridge website: www.replacethebridgenow.com.






June 4, 2010

New environmental study on Bonner Bridge
released; public meetings planned for July




The N.C. Department of Transportation wants to know what citizens think about changes made to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge replacement project in Dare County. NCDOT invites them to share their thoughts at a series of public hearings and open house workshops scheduled for July.

The changes are identified in a document called an Environmental Assessment, which NCDOT signed in May. It shows the adjustments the department has made to the project’s plans since the Final Environmental Impact Statement was released in September, 2008.

These changes include:

•    Revising the design options to reduce impacts to the Chicamacomico Life Saving Station and the Rodanthe Historic District.

•    Modifying the location where the new Oregon Inlet bridge will connect to Hatteras Island.

•    Eliminating the Pamlico Sound Bridge Corridor Alternative, which is commonly referred to as the “long bridge” alternative.

•    Recommending a different preferred alternative. In 2008, the FEIS recommended moving forward with the Parallel Bridge with Phased Approach/Rodanthe Bridge Alternative. It included building a new Oregon Inlet bridge west of the existing bridge during Phase I and later elevating Highway 12 onto a series of bridges during Phases II-IV.

The new preferred alternative is the Parallel Bridge Corridor with Highway 12 Transportation Management Plan Alternative. It calls for the new Oregon Inlet bridge to be built as soon as possible. Information generated by a coastal monitoring program would determine what to build in future phases and when that work would occur.

Citizens can ask NCDOT questions and share their comments about the project’s plans during several upcoming meetings:

•    Tuesday, July 6
o    A pre-hearing open house will be held at the Dare County Administration Building, which is located at 954 Marshall Collins Drive in Manteo, from 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

o    A formal public hearing will take place in the county commissioners’ room at 7 p.m.

•    Wednesday, July 7
o    A pre-hearing open house will be held at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center, which is located at 23186 Myrna Peters Road in Rodanthe, from 3 p.m.-7 p.m.

•    Thursday, July 8
o    A pre-hearing open house will be held at Cape Hatteras Elementary School, which is located at 47500 Middle Ridge Trail in Buxton, from 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m.

o    A formal public hearing will take place in the school’s cafeteria at 7 p.m.

Citizens are invited to drop in at any time during the pre-hearing open houses. NCDOT staff members will be available to discuss the proposed project and accept written comments.

The formal public hearings will consist of a presentation by NCDOT and then a public comment period. Those interested in speaking can sign up at the open houses or by calling the project’s toll-free information line, 1-866-803-0529, or e-mailing NCDOT Human Environment Unit Head Drew Joyner at [email protected]. Speakers will be asked to limit their comments to three minutes to ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to ask questions and express their thoughts.

Citizens who cannot attend the meetings but would like to provide comments can mail them to Drew Joyner, Human Environment Unit Head, NCDOT, 1598 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1598. They may also call or e-mail their comments to Drew Joyner at (919) 431-6700 or [email protected]. Comments will be accepted through Aug. 9.

NCDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, and other agencies will review the comments received and then determine if additional environmental studies are needed.

To read the Environmental Assessment and view the project maps, visit the NCDOT Web site or the Outer Banks Task Force Web site. Copies of the Environmental Assessment are also available at the following locations:


•    Dare County Planning and Inspections Satellite Office 49815 Highway 12 in Frisco.

•    NCDOT Resident Engineer’s Office 349 Waterplant Road, Unit B Manteo

•    Dare County Public Library 700 U.S. 64/264 Manteo

•    Dare County Public Library 56658 Highway 12 Hatteras

•    Dare County Public Library 400 Mustian St. Kill Devil Hills

•    Fessenden Recreation Center 46830 Highway 12 Buxton

Copies of the maps are available at the Dare County Planning and Inspections Satellite Office in Frisco and the NCDOT Resident Engineer’s Office in Manteo.

NCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who wish to participate in these meetings. Anyone requiring special services should contact Drew Joyner using the contact information above as early as possible, so arrangements can be made.




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