August 17, 2010


NCDOT reports historic number of
comments on Bonner Bridge Replacement


By IRENE NOLAN




A historic number of citizens – more than 3,800 people – sent comments regarding the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge replacement project to the N.C. Department of Transportation during the public comment period that ended Aug. 9.

About 95 percent of those comments favor replacing the 48-year-old bridge immediately with the short bridge option.

“I’ve worked at NCDOT for 15 years, and I’ve never seen a project generate this many comments from the public,” said Drew Joyner, head of the department’s Human Environment Unit, which is responsible for informing citizens about upcoming projects and soliciting their feedback on project plans. “Citizens from along the Outer Banks and across the country said they want the Bonner Bridge replaced now, and we heard them loud and clear.”

The vast majority of comments also support using information generated by a coastal monitoring program to determine what to build in future phases of the project on Highway 12 between Oregon Inlet and Rodanthe and when that work would occur. Replacing the Bonner Bridge as soon as possible and activating the coastal monitoring program are both components of the department’s recommended plan for this project.

NCDOT is currently reviewing all the comments it received from citizens, as well as state and federal agencies. Once that process is complete and no additional environmental documents are required, the next step would be for the Federal Highway Administration to issue a Record of Decision.

The public comment period started June 6 and ended Aug. 9. It coincided with two well-attended public hearings and three open houses in Manteo, Rodanthe, and Buxton in early July.

NCDOT held the meetings to discuss design changes made to the project’s plans, which were presented in a document called an Environmental Assessment.

Though the public comment period on the Environmental Assessment is now closed, a newly formed group, informally known as the Bridge Moms, is still collecting letters that they hope Sen. Kay Hagan will deliver to First Lady Michelle Obama in the White House.

The Bridge Moms group will continue to accept letters for a while. This group is urging action to protect the safety of the children of Hatteras Island and the children who visit here.

North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue delivered more than 100 letters to the First Lady last week, according to Beth Midgett, head Bridge Mom and chairman of the Dare County Citizens’ Action Committee to Replace the Bonner Bridge.

“You do not have to live on Hatteras or Ocracoke to participate,” Midgett says. “Any concerned mom, of any age, who has a child or grandchild who travels over the bridge at any time is welcome. For example: Perhaps there are older mothers off the Island whose adult children live on one of the islands? Or grandmothers from off the island whose grandchildren are dependent on the lifeline of Bonner Bridge? Maybe a mother from off island who has a son who drives a delivery truck on and off the island? A Mom from off island whose son visits in the fall to come fishing…. All are welcome to write an appeal.”

Sending photos of children who live on or visit the island is also encouraged.

More information on the Bridge Moms and sample letters are available on the group’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bridge-Mom.



FOR MORE INFORMATION

The Editor’s Blog:  An update on replacing the Bonner Bridge
http://islandfreepress.org/PivotBlog/pivot/entry.php?id=105#body

Editor’s Blog:  Soccer Moms, Hockey Moms, and now Bridge Moms
http://islandfreepress.org/PivotBlog/pivot/entry.php?id=104

Bridge Moms on Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bridge-Moms/144941862188265?ref=search

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

Editor’s Blog:  Public Comments will be critical for getting bridge replacement moving again
http://islandfreepress.org/PivotBlog/pivot/entry.php?id=101#body

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




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