There is no huge ceremony scheduled when it happens, but sometime late this month or early March, the first shovel full of dirt is going to going to be lifted out of the ground and construction for the replacement for the Bonner Bridge will officially begin.
Tied up in court for years as the environmental law firm Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) tried to force NCDOT to build a bridge that could not be funded, the new bridge is moving forward under the terms of an agreement between the SELC and NCDOT signed last June.
The agreement, wide-ranging and complex, covers the entire corridor from the Bonner Bridge to Rodanthe and includes preferred alternatives and suggested remedies for areas particularly prone to ocean overwash and flooding.
Whether the SELC will be as accommodating in allowing the Mid Currituck Bridge to move forward is an open question. The first signs do not seem encouraging.
Within a week of Governor McCrory’s announcement that the timetable for the bridge would be accelerated and with a planned construction start date of 2017, the SELC fired off a six page letter to NCDOT detailing their objections.
Not stated in the letter but acknowledged in statement to a local newspaper is the underlying concern that improved access to Corolla “ . . . will encourage yet more development on the Outer Banks, particularly North of Corolla.” The quote, attributed to SELC Attorney, Kym Hunter, appeared in the Outer Banks Sentinel.