The latest rankings are in, and it looks highly unlikely that the Mid Currituck Bridge will be built. A new state law Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) Law requires NCDOT to evaluate all state highway projects under an objective rating system. Using the system devised by NCDOT, the Mid Currituck Bridge comes in 178th on the list.
The bridge, conceived as a means to reduce congesttion on summer weekends, improve travel times and make evacuations faster and safer, would connect Corolla on the Outer Banks with mainland Currituck County.
The state is basing their ratings on nine criteria:
1. Benefit cost.
4. Economic competitiveness.
7. Pavement condition.
8. Lane width.
9. Shoulder width.
At first glance it all seems very reasonable, but–as the saying goes–”The devil is in the details.”
As an example, hurricane evacuation times are no where to be found in any of the rating categories. Hurricanes are actually not all that common on the Outer Banks, but they when they occur, evacuation becomes very important.
One of the more important rating factors factors are commuter times. Admittedly things can get a bit difficult to navigate on the Outer Banks, but there is no way an area with a total population of 45,000-50,000 can compete with Raleigh or Charlotte.
Commuting times are 40% of the accessibility part of the Mulitmodal rating. It’s all a bit confusing, but here is the definition for that particular piece of the rating puzzle: “Commuting times by census tracts – Points are based on the average commuting time in the census tract(s) in which the project is located.”
Essentially what this means is the rating for commuting time is skewed to favor a large population base.
It’s all a first pass, though, from the state. The final results will not be calculated until 2015. There will be hearings and public input will be solicited. Maybe things will change.