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Groups Set to Challenge Mid-Currituck Bridge

Coastal Review Online

https://www.coastalreview.org/2019/04/groups-set-to-challenge-mid-currituck-bridge/

4.09.2019 by Catherine Kozak

The selected alternative for the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge includes two new spans, shown in red above, connected by new roadway, shown in blue, with an interchange on the mainland end and a roundabout at N.C. 12. The green along U.S. 158 indicates reversal of the center turn lane during hurricane evacuation. Map: NCDOT

COROLLA – Any day now, legal action may be taken to challenge construction of the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge, but it would be par for the course for a project that has been presumed dead for much of four decades.

Plans for the 4.7-mile, two-lane span between Currituck County’s mainland and Outer Banks reached a milestone last month that not long ago seemed impossible: approval to move forward.

With the Federal Highway Administration’s Record of Decision on March 8, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority have the official go-ahead to seek environmental permits, acquire rights of way and advance plans for construction of the $4.9 million bridge, Project No. R-2576. The project also includes a 1.5-mile bridge over Maple Swamp in Aydlett, the project’s mainland entrance about 25 miles south of the Virginia state line.

But debate about the project’s environmental effects, its cost and its very necessity continues unabated.

“This is a massive boondoggle,” said John Grattan, a member of Concerned Citizens and Visitors Opposed to the Mid-Currituck Bridge, or NOMCB, and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. “A half a billion dollars (would be spent) for a bridge that is going to fulfill its function relieving traffic on only 13 weekends a year.”

“This is a massive boondoggle.”
— John Grattan, NOMCB

Bridge proponents, including officials in Dare and Currituck counties and the towns of Duck, Southern Shores and Kitty Hawk, say it is needed to relieve hourslong summer congestion on U.S. 158 approaching the Wright Memorial Bridge and on N.C. 12 between Southern Shores and Corolla. Not only is the traffic an inconvenience to visitors and residents alike, they say, it is a safety hazard in a resort area subject to intense weather. In addition to shaving an hour off the time for visitors coming to the Outer Banks from Virginia, the bridge would also increase employment and cut commuting time for seasonal staff, proponents contend.

“The Mid-Currituck Bridge will provide much-needed transportation improvements for hurricane evacuation clearance times and connectivity to the Outer Banks,” Chris Werner, acting executive director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, said in a statement in March.

Estimating Demand

According to Currituck Economic Development, the county’s year-round population is projected to grow from the current 25,000 to 42,000 by 2045, and the seasonal population is expected to increase by more than 30,000 in the same period. Without the second bridge, NCDOT estimated that the hurricane evacuations by 2035 would take 36 hours. State rules call for clearance time – the hours from the start of evacuation until the last vehicle is gone – to be 18 hours.

But the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is representing NOMCB and the Wildlife Federation, contends that NCDOT and the Turnpike Authority are required under federal regulations to update the environmental impact statement, or EIS, that was completed in 2012 because it is based on outdated information, including about traffic volume and sea level rise and storm surge data. The groups have requested that a supplemental EIS be completed to update the information in the 2012 document that was the basis for the just-issued Record of Decision.

Kym Hunter

“Since that time, there have been substantial changes made to the project and to the proposed alternative solutions,” SELC attorney Kym Hunter said in a March 18 letter to the agencies requesting a supplemental EIS. “In addition, significant new information has developed with regard to project costs, environmental impacts, traffic forecasts, hurricane evacuation modeling, development assumptions, and financing plans.”

In an interview, Hunter also said that recent estimates show that there would be fewer vehicles using the bridge than earlier projections, which would affect not only congestion and hurricane evacuation forecasts, but also potential toll revenue.

She noted that the state had set aside $178 million in the NCDOT Division 1 budget for the project, leaving about $300 million to be provided by tolls or some other revenue source. Tolls could be as much as $28 each way during peak season, Hunter said, and NCDOT costs could consume “a considerable part” of the Division 1 budget.

The need for the bridge as an evacuation route, Hunter said, is undercut by the latest climate science showing increased sea level rise and storm surge.

“So, during a hurricane, it’s very likely that this won’t even be a usable bridge,” Hunter said.

Meanwhile, Hunter said SELC is waiting for a response to its request for a supplemental environmental impact statement.

“We have asked NCDOT to prepare a SEIS, which is legally required because of the many changes that have occurred since 2012, and because the current documentation is outdated and inadequate,” Hunter said in an email dated April 1. “If the Department will not do so we will be forced to take legal action on behalf of our clients.”

The law center has 150 days from the record of decision, or until Aug. 5, to file a legal challenge.

Another alternative developed by an engineer hired by the groups proposes a combined approach that would cost about $146 million and would include the following:

  • Building a flyover at the intersection of U.S. 159 and N.C 12.
  • Replacing traffic lights with roundabouts.
  • Using staggered check-in and check-out times and electronic keys for weekly rental customers.
  • Creating manned traffic controls at peak times.
  • Developing a traffic app for visitors to help avoid congestion.

Long, Troubled History

An east-west crossing over Currituck Sound was first identified as a need in 1975. Since then, the Mid-Currituck Bridge has lurched along in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back planning process. After formal planning finally began for the bridge in 1995, nearly every state and federal stakeholder agency raised objections. Among the objections were concerns that development would be encouraged in an area unsuited to handle it.

The proposal was eventually tabled. But in 2006, the project was revived, and it was delegated to the Turnpike Authority to develop a public-private partnership to fund and build the bridge as a toll project with a price tag of about $600 million. At the time, tolls were estimated to cost about $8 each way during summer and $6 during the remainder of the year.

By 2012, the proposed cost was reduced to about $410 million, but the North Carolina General Assembly declined to provide funding. Two years later, the project was added to NCDOT’s 10-year transportation improvement plan, but it didn’t meet the state’s priorities for funding, which use scores projects receive based on population and traffic. So again, the project was put on hold.

After an amendment to the transportation plan that considered more local input, the project was moved up in the priority list, qualified for construction and was included as a funded project in the 2016-25 state transportation improvement plan.

According to the federal decision, the bridge is to be financed by a combination of toll revenue bonds; a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, or TIFIA, loan; Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle, or GARVEE bonds; and state matching funds. The total cost including utilities, environmental mitigation and rights of way is $490.59 million.

Rodger Rochelle

Rodger Rochelle, NCDOT project engineer, said that the department determined that changes since the 2012 environmental statement were not substantive enough to warrant a supplemental environmental statement.

The public-private partnership concept was dropped after the agencies were unable to come to an agreement with the developer on costs to build and maintain the bridge for 50 years, Rochelle added.

“The alignment and the scope of the project essentially has not changed since the EIS,” he said in an interview.

Lacking Infrastructure

Rochelle said that a toll estimate is expected to be available after a revenue and traffic study is completed. He declined to estimate when it would be done.

But Jen Symonds, NOMCB’s steering committee chair, said that the bridge proposal does not consider that the village of Corolla and Carova, the unpaved community to its north, lack the infrastructure to handle the increased traffic that the bridge would bring. Carova can barely handle the crowds that come for wild horse tours, she said.

“They’re tearing up the beaches,” Symonds said. “You’ve got vacationers up there using the beach as a toilet.”

But Currituck County Manager Dan Scanlon said that the county has made and is continuing to make significant improvements to the beach areas, including a greenway, a pedestrian plan and additional parking, sidewalks and restrooms. The county also has recently updated its land use plan, he said. But there’s a difference of opinion, he said, about the bridge’s potential effect.

“There’s a finite amount of development left,” Scanlon said. “I think we are addressing growth potential.”

But to Symonds, the whole idea of the bridge improving hurricane evacuation or easing congestion makes no sense, considering that the bridge will only bring more traffic.

“The bridge has one lane each way, so it will queue back up,” she said. “And it’s not going to help that traffic that they experience on N.C. 12. They’re going to be going south and north to get to the rental offices.”

Traffic is a fact of life in all vacation areas, Symonds said, whether it’s a ski resort or a beach resort.

“You could build a thousand of these bridges,” she said. “It’s not going to help the road capacity on N.C. 12. Deal with it.”

Learn More

https://connect.ncdot.gov/projects/Pages/Mid-Currituck-Bridge.aspx

About the Author

Catherine Kozak

Catherine Kozak has been a reporter and writer on the Outer Banks since 1995. She worked for 15 years for The Virginian Pilot. Born and raised in the suburbs outside New York City, Catherine earned her journalism degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz. During her career, she has written about dozens of environmental issues, including oil and gas exploration, wildlife habitat protection, sea level rise, wind energy production, shoreline erosion and beach nourishment. She lives in Nags Head.


S.E.L.C. Press Release

Local Residents, Hunters, and Fishermen Outraged by Approval of $500M Mid-Currituck Bridge

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.– Local residents from the Currituck mainland and the northern Outer Banks—along with hunters, fishermen, and wildlife enthusiasts from the North Carolina Wildlife Federation—reacted with dismay when the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) announced late Friday that it had signed a legal approval for the $500 million Mid-Currituck Bridge. The Southern Environmental Law Center represents the groups and has written multiple letters over the years calling into question the need for the bridge and the adequacy of the agencies’ environmental review for the project.   

The $500 million proposed bridge would stretch from Aydlett on the Currituck mainland across the environmentally-sensitive Currituck Sound to Corolla on the Outer Banks. The bridge would lead to growth in undisturbed areas along the Northern Outer Banks, along with increased pollution, thus harming important wildlife habitat in the area. The highly controversial bridge has failed to gain necessary legal approvals to move forward for the past 40 years. It would cause significant damage to the Currituck Sound, and its pricey tolls—by some estimates up to $50 during peak summer months—render the project only usable by wealthy tourists.   

Despite receiving this approval from the Federal Highway Administration, NCDOT has been unable to present a viable financial plan to pay for the bridge. The new document shows that NCDOT predicts a drop in long-term traffic expectations, calling into question the agency’s claimed need for the bridge. Less traffic would also mean less toll revenue going toward the cost of the bridge. As a result, the bridge may consume all state transportation funding for North Carolina’s Northern coastal region for years to come.  

Approval of this expensive bridge is particularly disappointing in light of Governor Cooper’s recent statements and executive order noting the importance of resiliency in the face of climate change,” said SELC Attorney Kym Hunter. “Not only will this bridge encourage more development in a stretch of North Carolina that will soon be underwater, but it diverts funding away from other needed road improvements in coastal North Carolina that are increasingly vulnerable to flooding.”

The groups are particularly concerned with the lack of transparency surrounding the approval process. There has been no public analysis of the bridge and no opportunity for the public to weigh in on options since 2012. Despite the significant changes and new information that has come to light in the intervening years, NCDOT has chosen to avoid a public process and engage in closed door decision-making instead.

Among the new information NCDOT has ignored is a study, presented by the groups last year, looking at a suite of less costly alternative transportation solutions for the Northern Outer Banks. The proposal includes minimal road widening along key congested stretches of NC 12, a redesigned interchange between NC 12 and 158, and the conversion of signalized intersections to roundabouts, as well as programs designed to reduce transportation demand, such as incentives for staggered check-out days at vacation rental homes, and an “electronic key” program that would eliminate unnecessary trips to centralized vacation rental offices.

The alternative solution was designed to ease peak congestion days, which occur primarily on summer weekends, at drastically less cost to taxpayers and the environment than the proposed bridge. The approach also could be implemented much sooner than the proposed bridge.

The Southern Environmental Law Center is currently reviewing the NCDOT’s approval documents and coordinating with its clients about next steps.

                                                                           ###

No Mid-Currituck Bridge is comprised of residents of and visitors to the Currituck mainland and Outer Banks who oppose the Mid-Currituck Bridge.  NoMCB strives to protect the unique natural environment of the Currituck mainland and the Outer Banks that hundreds of thousands of visitors come to experience and enjoy every year. 

North Carolina Wildlife Federation is a 501 © 3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection, conservation, and restoration of North Carolina wildlife and habitat since 1945.

For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With more than 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

Mid-Currituck Bridge Documents

Click on link to NCDOT project web site here

Suit ‘not off table’ to stop bridge

By William F. West
Staff Writer

The Daily Advance

Monday, August 28, 2017

An attorney for the environmental group opposing construction of the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge said a lawsuit is an option to block it.

“It’s definitely not off the table,” Kym Hunter, an attorney in the Chapel Hill office of the Charlottesville, Va.-based Southern Environmental Law Center, said recently.

Local officials apparently think so too.

During a recent meeting of the Currituck Chamber of Commerce’s Governmental Affairs Committee, Chamber President Josh Bass said he believes the Southern Environmental Law Center will file suit to stop the bridge project.

Allen Moran, new N.C. Department of Transportation Division 1 board member, was asked about Bass’ assertion. He, too, thinks the SELC lawsuit on the bridge project is likely.

“If not to stop it, to maybe change it, yes,” Moran said.

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s statewide master plan calls for a proposed seven-mile, tolled crossing over the Currituck Sound between Aydlett and Corolla. NCDOT has estimated the cost of the project at $489 million and anticipates releasing a record of decision on the project by next April. The record of decision is generally considered the final step in the process of preparing an environmental impact statement for a road project.

Hunter said any decision about whether there will be lawsuit on the bridge project will depend on whether NCDOT complies with the law.

“And that we don’t know yet because they haven’t completed all their environmental documents,” she said. “So, that will be something that we will have to determine at the appropriate time.”

Asked what laws specifically NCDOT needs to follow, Hunter said they include the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Coastal Management Act.

Hunter said her organization has encouraged the NCDOT to take a second look at non-bridge alternatives, particularly since so much has changed the past five years when a previous environmental document on the bridge project was prepared. She said those changes include increased costs and changing traffic forecasts.

For example, the SELC believes the Mid-Currituck Bridge will now cost as much as $600 million, not the $489 million NCDOT has projected. Hunter said the SELC’s estimate is based on its review of an NCDOT draft document and leads it to conclude the bridge shouldn’t be built.

“We don’t believe the bridge is necessary or affordable,” she said.

Hunter said she also believes NCDOT needs to prepare a supplemental environmental document on the bridge project and put its text out for public comment.

“And so far DOT has decided not to do that,” she said. “We do think that’s illegal and we’ve made that pretty clear in a letter that we’ve sent to them.”

She was referring to a 61-page document the Southern Environmental Law Center mailed to NCDOT in December.

Hunter said the SELC, supported by residents opposed to the bridge, would still like NCDOT to consider non-bridge alternatives like improving the intersection of U.S. Highway 158 and N.C. Highway 12 in Dare County.

The SELC and residents opposed to the bridge also would like to see minimal widening of N.C. 12 northward from U.S. 158 and conversion of intersections with traffic signals to roundabouts. They also would like to see more incentives offered so that vacationers could check out of their rental cottages at more staggered times. They’d also like to see an “electronic key” program to eliminate vacationers’ unnecessary trips to rental offices. The SELC believes both would help reduce the volume of traffic on N.C. 158 and 12 that is spurring demand for the bridge.

“We think if there could be some incentives to help move that along a little faster, that could be a lot more cost-effective and better for everyone,” Hunter said.

She said the SELC has had conversations with NCDOT but seen no indications the agency plans to put out a new study for public review. The agency also has not signaled it plans to address the SELC’s concerns, she said.

Tim Hass, a spokesman for NCDOT, said a project team continues to review comments and other materials provided by the SELC about the bridge project. The study team is also reevaluating and updating previous studies of the project, he said.

He said the project originated from a request from local officials, who submitted the project for consideration as part of North Carolina’s process of scoring and ranking transportation projects to determine which ones receive funding.

“The Mid-Currituck Bridge is the top transportation priority for the local communities and is being developed by the department accordingly,” he said.

The Virginian Pilot Op-Ed

We represent a strong contingent of local citizens from either side of the Currituck Sound who are fighting against the environmentally harmful and fiscally irresponsible Mid-Currituck Bridge project.  The over $600 million project makes less and less sense with each passing year.   To address summer-weekend traffic congestion, NCDOT is proposing a massive 7-mile toll bridge to a shifting and environmentally sensitive barrier island community.   Those of us who cherish everything  that makes the Northern Outer Banks so special are asking NCDOT to take a fresh look at alternative solutions.

 NCDOT must rethink the available options in light of its new traffic forecast data.  NCDOT’s own forecasts show that traffic is expected to be considerably lower than previously expected when the Bridge was first planned.  This calls into question both the need for the bridge and its plan of finance, which is heavily dependent on toll revenue.  Based on recent figures, the toll would need to be as high as $50 for a one-way trip in order to generate adequate revenue for the bridge.  With NCDOT predicting fewer drivers paying hefty tolls to use the bridge, who will be left holding the tab for the costly project?  As costs for the bridge continue to rise, the state is not proposing to cover any of the increased costs.

 To address the need for an alternative solution, we hired an outside expert with decades of experience to take a fresh look at transportation solutions for the Northern Outer Banks.  Our expert, Walter Kulash, is a professional engineer who prides himself on finding sensible, low cost solutions that are sensitive to the needs of local communities.  For Currituck County and the Northern Outer Banks, Mr. Kulash has developed a solution that is not only comprehensive, but also has excellent value.  In contrast to the grandiose ribbon cutting infrastructure  favored by politicians, Mr. Kulash’s alternative focuses on solving the real issues underlying the Northern Outer Banks summer traffic woes.  His solution includes:

 ·         Reconfiguring the interchange of NC 12 and NC 158 by creating a “flyover” intersection– this would alleviate a major cause of backups along 158 as well as NC 12.   

 ·         Installing roundabouts at all intersections along NC 12 to keep traffic flowing.

 ·         Adding an additional lane to NC 12 in Dare County that would serve as a two-way-left–turn lane.

 ·         Consolidating driveways along NC 12, reducing the number of stops in traffic.

 Exploring creative solutions and incentive programs to spread summer tourist traffic out throughout the week and away from heavy weekend changeover days.

 ·         Studying needed adjustments to NC 158, including adding frontage roads to serve local businesses, consolidating interchanges, and eliminating left turns.

 

Mr. Kulash has priced his alternative at $146 million—less than a quarter of the cost of the $600 million bridge.  This sensible solution would be a boon to taxpayers and would help ensure that needed transportation funding is available for other critical projects in North Carolina’s coastal areas.  The proposed solution would benefit all travelers to the Northern Outer Banks, not just those willing to pay a $50 toll to bypass congestion. 

There are real traffic congestion problems in the Northern Outer Banks – but they primarily occur on a handful of summer weekend days in peak tourist season.  These problems should be solved with simple, common sense solutions—not an unaffordable seven-mile toll bridge. 

 Over the years, public officials have used a fabricated need for increased hurricane evacuation capacity to instill fear in the public and drive support for the bridge.  While hurricanes can cause severe devastation to North Carolina’s coast, the reality is that they hardly ever land on the Northern Outer Banks during peak tourist season.  Modern science and the 24 hour news cycle also mean we know several days in advance of any major storm event,  leaving sufficient time to safely and orderly evacuate.   The State’s 18 hour evacuation goal is arbitrary, not based on science or any justifiable standard, and is instead designed to spur major investment in transportation projects and encourage dangerous coastal development.  It should not be used to justify this costly and unneeded bridge.

The moment has come for NCDOT to  look at fresh ideas that would ease traffic congestion without the bridge’s tremendous cost to  taxpayers and the environment.   We urge Governor Cooper and our new Secretary of Transportation and to consider the alternative developed by Mr. Kulash and to cast aside the outdated Mid-Currituck Bridge idea once and for all.

William Miller, III PhD from Corolla, & Jennifer Symonds from Aydlett are both members of the steering committee for No Mid-Currituck Bridge.  

April 4 2017 Meeting to Discuss Bridge Project

NoMCB Letter to Transportation Secretary Trogdon

Secretary Jim Trogdon, P.E.
North Carolina Department of Transportation
Office of the Secretary
1501 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1501
jhtrogdon@ncdot.gov

Dear Secretary Trogdon:

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Transportation Secretary for North
Carolina. We are a group of concerned citizens writing to ask you to take a fresh look at the
proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge. Our group, No Mid-Currituck Bridge (“NoMCB”), is
comprised of residents and visitors from both the Currituck mainland and the Currituck
Outer Banks. We began meeting as a group in 2010 and, since that time, have held
community meetings to share information about the proposed bridge, voice our opposition,
and construct alternative solutions.

We write today to ask that you seriously consider a newly developed alternative submitted
by our group to your Department in December. This alternative, a summary of which is
attached, stems from our in-depth experience as to the true transportation concerns in
Currituck County and the Northern Outer Banks. The solutions we proposed were further
developed by transportation expert Walter Kulash, who has over 45 years’ experience in
transportation engineering. We believe the alternative would alleviate traffic congestion
on NC 12 without the high fiscal and environmental cost of the bridge.

Recent findings by NCDOT demonstrate that now is the time to consider a new alternative
to the bridge. Funding for the bridge, with cost estimates ranging up to $678 million,
appears to be in serious doubt. Only $173 million has been set aside from the project from
the STI—leaving the balance to be paid for by tolls. But with DOT’s projections of future
traffic now severely diminished we do not believe that drivers will be willing to pay a toll
high enough (based on some estimates, as high as $50 for a one-way trip) to make the
bridge financially viable. North Carolina’s scarce transportation resources should be more
wisely spent.

As you know, the proposed bridge would cross the fragile and ecologically significant
Currituck Sound, which continues to deteriorate because of development in southeastern
Virginia. The Sound has historically been one of the most significant spots for wintering
waterfowl on the east coast, and it is cherished for the recreational opportunities it
provides. The bridge’s construction and use would harm the Sound in an unacceptable
manner.

In addition to our serious concerns about the environmental impacts of the bridge, we are
also concerned about the effect the bridge would have on the natural resources and
character of the Currituck mainland and the Outer Banks. The bridge would induce
development in a way that has not been properly studied and accounted for. In addition to
development, the bridge would also attract more visitors, including day-trippers from
southeastern Virginia. This increased development and visitation would place an
unsustainable strain on the land and natural resources of our small barrier island.

Our group represents part of the strong opposition to the Mid-Currituck Bridge on both the
Currituck mainland and the Outer Banks. We hope that your department takes the time to
take a thoughtful look at whether this costly and controversial project is truly the best
solution. We urge you to consider our new alternative. We would be happy to meet with
you to further discuss our concerns at your convenience.

Local Residents and Property Owners Ask NCDOT to Look at Alternatives to $600M Mid-Currituck Bridge

 

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.– Local residents and property owners from the Currituck mainland and the northern Outer Banks sent a letter today to Secretary of Transportation, Jim Trogdon, asking him to look at a more affordable and less damaging solution to traffic congestion in the Northern Outer Banks than the proposed $678 million Mid-Currituck Bridge . 

No Mid-Currituck Bridge, a group comprised of local residents and visitors, asked Secretary Trogdon to study a suite of alternative solutions submitted by the group that includes minimal road widening along key congested stretches of NC 12, a redesigned interchange between NC 12 and 158, and the conversion of signalized intersections to roundabouts.

The $678 million proposed bridge would cross the sensitive Currituck Sound between mainland Currituck County and Corolla on the Outer Banks.

Residents of those areas and visitors who wrestle with beach traffic, provided consultation and suggestions for the alternative solution developed under the guidance of an experienced transportation expert.

The proposal also includes programs designed to reduce transportation demand, such as  incentives for staggered check-out days at vacation rental homes, and an “electronic key” program that would eliminate unnecessary trips to centralized vacation rental offices.

The alternative solution was designed to ease peak congestion days, which occur primarily on summer weekends, at drastically less cost to taxpayers and the environment than the proposed bridge. This approach also could be implemented much sooner than the proposed bridge.

By contrast, the North Carolina Department of Transportation has been unable to present a viable financial plan to pay for its proposed $678 million bridge. Last fall, NCDOT’s own analysis showed a drop in long-term traffic expectations.  Less traffic would mean less toll revenue, which the state is relying on as a primary means of financing the pricey project.

###

No Mid-Currituck Bridge is comprised of residents of and visitors to the Currituck mainland and Outer Banks who oppose the Mid-Currituck Bridge.  NoMCB strives to protect the unique natural environment of the Currituck mainland and the Outer Banks that hundreds of thousands of visitors come to experience and enjoy every year. 

The Southern Environmental Law Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. With nine offices across the region (Charlottesville, VA; Chapel Hill, NC; Atlanta, GA; Charleston, SC; Washington, DC; Birmingham, AL; Nashville, TN; Asheville, NC; and Richmond, VA), SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect the South’s natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

Mid-Currituck Bridge Alternatives We Propose

Summary of Proposed Alternative to Mid-Currituck Bridge
The Proposed Alternative would:
 Make it easier for vehicles on US 158 to access businesses and neighborhoods.
 Create a “flyover” at the US 158/NC 12 intersection and a “superstreet” segment on US 158.
 Widen NC 12 to three lanes with a two-way-left-turn-lane from the Wright Memorial Bridge to Duck.
 Replace all traffic signals on NC 12 north of the Wright Memorial Bridge with roundabouts.
Additional Elements Include:
 Develop a plan to stagger check-in check-out times at rental properties throughout the week.
 Institute a plan to increase electronic keys for rentals, eliminating travel to and from rental agency offices.
 For US 158: Conduct a comprehensive study that will evaluate, among other things, the need for additional traffic signals and improved timing of traffic signals.
 Develop a plan for adding roundabouts on NC 12 at locations that currently do not have traffic signals.
 Provide manned traffic control to speed up traffic flow at key intersections during peak periods of traffic.
 Develop a plan for more connectivity between local streets and NC 12.
 Consolidate driveways along NC 12.
 Develop a traffic advice app for visitors, showing a profile of congestion, providing congestion alerts, and estimated travel times.

Ferries could connect Inner Banks – Daily Advance

By Reggie Ponder
Chowan Herald

Monday, January 23, 2017

One potential area of expansion for the North Carolina ferry system would be to connect Inner Banks communities with those on the Outer Banks, a state official says.

Chuck Hefren, of the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division, believes expanding the ferry system beyond the seven routes now in operation on the state’s Outer Banks could be accomplished through a public-private partnership.

Hefren, who addressed local officials during a meeting Friday in Edenton, said it could be worthwhile to use passenger ferries, for example, to increase access to locations such as Edenton. More visitors could lead to increased revenue for both the state and local governments, Hefren said.

The Edenton waterfront is ready to receive ferry traffic if a ferry route were established to the town, he said.

Building the additional ferry vessels in North Carolina would also be great for the state, Hefren said, echoing comments by two boat-builders who attended Friday’s meeting. Currently the state operates 22 ferry vessels.

Hefren also said if the private sector were to operate ferries on the sounds of the state, state officials could require that those ferry vessels used be built in North Carolina.

Joseph McClees, a lobbyist representing a number of counties in the region, said the ferries are a well-kept secret and need to be promoted better by the state.

“It’s an asset,” McClees said of the ferry system.

The ferries are also a potential tourist destination, McClees said. People could come to the state to ride the ferries if they were better-publicized, he said.

McClees also believes tourists could come to the Inner Banks region and then use ferries to visit the Outer Banks.

Susan Beckwith of the Inner Banks Inn said water taxis such as those used in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor could also be used to benefit the Inner Banks region.

Michael Reardon, a boat builder who attended Friday’s meeting, also mentioned the possibility of adding a couple of ocean-class ferries to the system to run, say, from Cape May, New Jersy to Nags Head. That could operated as a public-private partnership, he said.

Wit Tuttle of Visit NC urged Hefren to consider the various roles ferries play in different locations, from serving tourists to helping commuters get to work.

“Each ferry route is kind of a different beast,” Tuttle said.

He pointed out that some ferries carry mostly local residents while others serve large numbers of visitors. In certain locations there are no alternatives to the ferry, he added.

Hefren said the state needs to consider return on investment. From that standpoint it could be possible to justify more spending on ferry infrastructure, he said.

Hefren said that if the revenue generated by an increase in visitors turned out to be more than would be raised by an increase in ferry fares, then that can be part of the report he presents to the General Assembly.

Hefren also mentioned the possibility of using the marine transportation system to relieve some of the traffic congestion to the Northern Outer Banks. He also put forward the idea of using ferries as a way to help workers on the Outer Banks’ hospitality industry get to their jobs from their homes in Inner Banks communities.

After the main meeting Friday a smaller contingent remained to hear a presentation on a study by Nicholas Didow, a professor at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, proposing that a privately funded passenger ferry on the Albemarle Sound could be profitable.

The study projects an annual ridership beginning the first year of 107,000, a $13.8 million capital expenditure upfront and annual operating expenses of $1.95 million. The ferry has the potential to be profitable in the first year, according to the study.

An estimated 94 jobs would be created and the study estimates the tourism impact at $14 million.

Source: www.dailyadvance.com/News/2017/01/23/Ferries-could-connect-Inner-Banks.html

 
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