NCDOT rendering of Mid Currituck Bridge.

The big news coming out of Raleigh is the timetable for the Mid Currituck Bridge has been pushed forward. Originally scheduled to begin construction in 2019 with a completion date of 2023, NCDOT now plans to break ground on the project two years earlier in 2017.

The state has moved quickly to buy land needed for the terminus of the bridge on the Outer Banks and mainland sides of the Currituck Sound.

The project, with its promise of alleviating summer weekend traffic jams that the Wall Street Journal once rated as one of the 10 worst in the nation, has been one of NCDOT’s Transportation Improvement Projects (TIP) for over 25 years. Plagued by poorly executed Environmental Impact Statements and fickle funding the project never seemed to be able to move forward even though it enjoyed overwhelming local and regional support.

This is the closest yet to construction the project has come. Four years ago, the plans called for the bridge to be built and funded as a Public/Private Partnership, but the state withdrew from the agreement, feeling it could provide adequate funds to move to build the bridge. According to the statement from State Senator Bill Cook.

“North Carolina will spend an additional $4.5 billion on new construction and maintenance priorities over the next 10 years – without having to borrow money,” his office noted in his press release.

In other bridge news, construction on a new Bonner Bridge connecting Hatteras Island with the rest of the world is scheduled to begin this coming spring.