It appears as though the Outer Banks economy is headed in the right direction–or at least that was the consensus of opinion at a Thursday the annual Economic Forecast Breakfast at the Ramada Inn in Kill Devil Hills.
NC Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata seemed to convey the most relevant information, giving an overview of the bridge projects occurring on the Outer Banks. Since bridges are the lifeline of the local economy, his discussion was particularly relevant to the business community.
There are two project currently moving forward. The resurfacing of the Wright Memorial Bridge has fallen behind the original schedule; however, as originally planned, the surface will be ready for traffic when it reopens on May 15. What may have to be completed in the Fall will be work on the expansion joints.
A bridge over the entire 2.5 mile area around New Inlet on Pea Island is just starting up. To date there have been no legal challenges to it and if all goes as planned the project should be finished by early fall of 2016.
The replacement for the Bonner Bridge spanning Oregon Inlet is still tied up in litigation, according to Tata. Both the plaintiffs–the Southern Environmental Law Center–and NCDOT, the defendants, have asked the Federal Appeals Court for an expedited hearing. The request has been granted and a May court date is scheduled.
Lynn Minges, President and Chief Executive Officer of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association also spoke. Most of the information she presented was geared toward a more statewide and regional overview, but the trends within the data clearly showed an improving economic environment.
The opening presentation from Kurt Canning of Hutchins Canning and Company, the local accounting firm that sponsors the forecast breakfasts, was filled with relevant information. Particularly helpful were statistics indicating continuing strength in property management revenue.