I had the opportunity to attend a recent NCDOT presentation on the Outer Banks. According to Division Engineer, Barry Hobbs, who is Project Manager for the northeastern North Carolina division, the NC assembly may not provide ongoing funds for the project. Hobbs made his remarks at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Sea Ranch Resort in Kill Devil Hills.
If funding is not provided, it is very possible the project may not survive. A joint public/private partnership, the state of North Carolina has contractual obligations it must meet to keep the project moving forward.
The project has never been so close to actual construction. The final Environmental Impact Statement was approved in June of last year, and all that remains to allow bids and start construction, is a Record of Decision (ROD). The ROD was scheduled to be issued in December and at this point in time there is no indication when the document will be issued, and without funding, it is highly unlikely that it would be issued.
If the state does not meet its financial obligations to its private partners, it is doubtful the partnership will survive.
The bridge is a seen as the only viable means to alleviate the weekend traffic that plagues the northern Outer Banks during peak season. A 7-mile-long two lane toll bridge, this bridge would allow visitors, workers and residents traveling to Corolla to bypass NC 12, the two lane road through Southern Shores and the village of Duck.
In addition to discussing the Mid-Currituck Bridge, Hobbs gave an overview of ongoing NCDOT projects on the Outer Banks. Plans for replacing the aging Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet are proceeding–bids have been accepted and a plan is in place. However, there is a lawsuit pending and it remains “in the judge’s hands,” Hobbs said.