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A Bad Idea-Mid-Currituck Bridge Will Not Meet Needs of Visitors or Residents

The proposed Mid Currituck Bridge in any of it forms is a bad idea for the North Banks, a bad idea for the State of North Carolina and a bad idea for the tax payers of the United States.

There are innumerable reasons why this Bridge should never be constructed, but here are the top three.

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is Inadequate and Not Legally Supportable.

The combined State and Federal EIS is a full disclosure statement which is designed to give decision makers and the public a full and fair view of the potential impacts of a project, in this case the Mid Currituck Bridge. In addition to the direct impacts of the Bridge, the EIS is required under Federal Law to analyze the consequences of the “indirect and cumulative impacts”. The direct impacts of the Bridge are fairly straight forward. It is the indirect or growth inducing impacts that are the real issue. The Bridge will bring more day trippers, more vacationers and more permanent residents to the Currituck Outer Banks and with it the attendant fast food joints, “fun parks” and other sprawl related urban facilities.

The EIS hardly, if at all, addresses the growth inducing impacts that the Bridge will inevitably bring. In a document of over 300 pages there are exactly 10 pages devoted to the growth inducing impacts of the proposed Bridge on the Corolla-Carova area. The EIS does not address these potential impacts because it states that the growth in the area will be the same with or without the project, and that all the Bridge will do is change the growth patterns from the Dare County Outer Banks to the Currituck County Outer Banks (Corolla and Carova).

In the first place to state that no new growth will result from a bridge which will decrease travel time from the major metropolitan areas to the Outer Banks by as much as a hour is contrary to common experience and common sense and is an insult to our intelligence. In the second place changing the growth patterns from Dare County to the Currituck County Outer Banks is a major environmental impact and must be examined in the EIS in the detail it deserves.

The Growth that the Proposed Bridge Would Induce Would Destroy the Beauty and Environmental Quality That Make Our Area a Treasure.

If the EIS honestly and fairly analyzed the growth that the Bridge would surely bring, it would find that the increased vacation use and resultant commercial development, as well as increased day trippers would be more than this fragile region could bear. The induced urbanization would make this area look like Myrtle Beach. The Wild Horse Herd, already under unacceptable pressure because of the off road traffic diverted from the Hatteras National Sea Shore, would become even more endangered. The dunes which protect our dwellings and harbor species of special concern will suffer further erosion.

The area is not prepared for this kind of unbridled development. For instance there are only 30 parking spaces for beach access in the entire Currituck County Outer Banks. The EIS recommends no mitigation measure to address the growth the Bridge will surely bring. The Bridge induced growth would be an unmitigated disaster for this area.

The Proposed Bridge Would Not Accomplish Its Stated Purposes and Would be a Colossal Waste of the Taxpayers’ Money

According to the EIS the most likely bridge alternative would cost in excess of $800,000,000. While most of it will be paid for out of tolls, it would still require a Federal Loan Guarantee for 25 to 30 percent of its cost as well as an annual State appropriation of about $15,000,000–all this to alleviate congestion on 26 days a year. In these fiscally tough times this is a terrible allocation of priorities.

Another stated purpose of the Bridge is to cut down hurricane evacuation time. The last time this “purpose” was trotted out, the Corps of Engineers and other agencies pointed out that this did not take into account the added number of people that would need to be evacuated due to the growth induced by the Bridge. What has changed? Additionally, according to the minutes of a recent meeting of safety and traffic officials, all the Bridge would succeed in doing would be pushing the evacuation bottle neck forward to the Barco area. Should we spend almost a billion dollars to move a bottle neck 25 miles for an event that occurs a few times a decade?

I have great empathy for the folks in Duck and Southern Shores (and on the Mainland) who have serious seasonal weekend traffic problems, but the increased visitors that the Bridge would bring would make the proverbial “rainy Thursday in the summer” a nightmare in Duck and Southern Shores.

This is why I think that the Proposed Mid Currituck Bridge is a bad idea. I know some of you agree and some of you disagree. Whatever our position, as neighbors I believe we can disagree without being disagreeable.

Biographical Note:

John Grattan lives in Corolla. He is an environmental and energy attorney and lobbyist who practiced in Washington, D.C. and in California before moving to the Outer Banks.

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