September 16, 2014
UPDATE: New concept includes
7-mile bridge into Pamlico Sound
By IRENE NOLAN
new concept being considered by the North Carolina Department of
Transportation would include a 7-mile bridge into the Pamlico
Sound that would run from just north of Pea Island Inlet --at the dike
at the southern pond on the refuge -- down to northern Rodanthe.
announced yesterday that it is in discussions with the Southern
Environmental Law Center and its clients in the legal impasse over the
replacement of the Bonner Bridge and the solutions for the hotspots
along Highway 12.
The new concept is outlined in a PowerPoint
presentation that DOT gave last week when the department met with the
Highway 12 merger team, comprised of state and federal resource and
regulatory agencies, to brief members on the status of the project and
The new concept is labeled "future extension
concept" on a map of the area that is included in the PowerPoint. DOT
said it is "under consideration" in the discussions.
unclear if the Pea Island Inlet bridge, which was under construction
until DOT ordered a work stoppage last week, would still be built and
if the department will still proceed with one of two options to bridge
the S-Curves and northern Rodanthe and then join the two with a future
bridge out into the sound.
The northern Rodanthe phase of addressing the hotspots is known as Phase IIb. The Pea Island Inlet portion is Phase IIa.
IIb was presented to the public last January with two options -- one a
bridge over the hotspot in the current right of way and the other a 2.3
mile bridge out into Pamlico Sound. Both would rejoin Highway 12
in the area of Island Convenience. DOT promised a decision on which
option it would choose in late summer, but that never happened.
the other hand, the department could be considering scratching both IIa
and IIb and building the 7-mile bridge instead. Or maybe just
scratching IIa, the Pea Island Inlet bridge.
On the graphic of
the northern Rodanthe area and the options included on Page 22 of the
PowerPoint -- the map is also at the top of this page -- there are two
revised options for the northern Rodanthe "bridge in new location,
labeled 2014 revised A and 2014 revised B.
Both of those options
bring the bridge in closer to the island than the 2013 proposal for the
bridge to avoid as much as possible the submerged aquatic vegetation
out further in the sound. The National Marine Fisheries Service raised
the issue of the impact of a bridge in the sound on fisheries because
of possible harm to the aquatic vegetation.
In the PowerPoint,
DOT also says that it received 12 oral and 78 written comments at
January's public hearings on the options for Phase IIb. Twelve
commenters preferred the bridge within the current right-of-way, and 33
commenters and 64 petition signatures favored the bridge into the
sound. Three who commented wanted a bridge that could be built sooner,
and 26 commenters plus 208 petition signatures favored beach
nourishment with no bridge.
DOT said yesterday that because of
the confidential nature of the discussions, no additional statements
will be released on this issue until conversations are complete and the
issue is resolved.
Click here to see the PowerPoint presentation.