There are many concerned citizens and vacationers that support the SELC in their efforts against Mid-Currituck Bridge, an unnecessary, extremely expensive, and environmentally damaging project.
The cost of the project has ranged from $750 million in a 2010 Letter of Interest for a federal T.I.F.I.A. loan to a “normalized cost” of $410 million for scoring purposes only during the P3.0 process. As recently as November 2014 the federally approved STIP cited a cost of $621 million. One month later the new draft STIP listed the cost at $475 million, $65 million more than the cost used for scoring. Now the NCDOT claims the project cost is $435 million. The NCDOT has not explained the drastic $200 million drop in the price tag. The Public Private Partnership has been cancelled; the annual $28 million per year “gap” funding has been removed from state statute, so the tolls would be much higher than the $26 toll each way.
Bridge supporters also claim the bridge is needed for hurricane evacuation. According to the FEIS, adding an additional outbound lane on US158 or using the center turn lane for hurricane evacuation would be more effective. It is up to the county to call for an evacuation, not the state nor the feds. Hurricane tracking today gives days, not hours of advanced warning of impending landfall so the bridge is not “needed” for that purpose. Just 4 years ago, hurricane Irene slammed this area a week before Labor Day, with a 7 foot storm surge hitting Duck, everyone was evacuated safely.
SEASONAL TRAFFIC ON NC12
To alleviate the heavy traffic experienced on NC12 north of US158 during the tourist season, the least expensive and environmentally damaging alternative that would provide the most relief would be to widen the existing road, the ER2 alternative that was part of the FEIS, the alternative that the bridge supporters oppose. If you don’t add sufficient capacity to NC12 by adding additional lanes, the traffic will not improve since once the vacationers arrive, as they travel NC12 throughout the week. The bridge would not affect any of that traffic but would add to the congestion due to the increase of day trippers from Virginia and surrounding areas. A major known problem is Duck’s 60 foot right of way with development close to the road. The standard right of way is 80 feet. As we all know, Duck’s speed limit is 25 with single lane traffic in each direction. Fix the problem where the problem lies at a much lower cost to the tax payers and the environment.
We live and earn our living here because of our natural environment. Fishing, hunting and recreational activities bring vacationers that drive our economy. The bridge project will damage the Currituck Sound from polluted bridge runoff among a host of other issues, increase pressure on the 4 wheel drive area with increased traffic on the northern beaches, and lead to the wildly popular Corolla wild horses being penned up like they are in Ocracoke for their own safety.
Our local politicians have heavily lobbied to tell you that the bridge is “needed” for economic development of the Currituck OBX. That is the claim that was used in the 1980’s when the bridge was first discussed. They claimed then, as they are now, that the Currituck OBX cannot be developed without the bridge. Today, Corolla is more than 70% built out so, that “need” along with the others falls flat.