Have you or your family and friends driven to the Outer Banks on a summer weekend and waited in traffic for many hours as you attempt to reach your destinations in Dare County or the Currituck Outer Banks? Have any of you waited in line for several hours to evacuate following the notice of an imminent hurricane?
The Currituck County Board of Commissioners has been trying to get a Mid-Currituck Bridge built for more than 20 years to alleviate this traffic nightmare. Resolutions of support for this bridge have been received from all surrounding counties because they realize the economic benefit it would bring.
In total support of the Currituck commissioners, a nonprofit organization, Build the Bridge-Preserve Our Roads, Inc., comprised of representatives from Currituck County and the towns of Duck and Southern Shores in Dare County, has been working tirelessly for more than 10 years to get a mid-county bridge built in order to reduce the travel time to the Outer Banks on summer weekends and, most importantly, to provide more than one access/exit from the northern Outer Banks during hurricane evacuations. This bridge is not being addressed with the urgency that it deserves.
In 2012, the North Carolina Department of Transportation Turnpike Authority received a final Environmental Impact Statement for construction of the bridge, and now they are awaiting the Record of Decision which will allow construction decisions to be made. Unfortunately for those who want to relieve the congestion and provide another means of access to the Outer Banks, the construction of this bridge is being challenged by the Southern Environmental Law Center.
In a letter sent to the NCDOT Turnpike Authority, the SELC included a number of incorrect and misleading statements regarding public support, environmental issues and alternative solutions to the bridge. Most conclusions reached by the SELC are without factual basis on environmental, engineering or economic issues, and the SELC ignores the substantial work and reports already in Turnpike Authority records.
BBPR, through their board of directors, has addressed several of the major items of misinformation in the SELC letter. BBPR’s specific response takes up much more space than this letter to the editor allows. To find out more, check our website, buildthebridge.org, to review the response and to learn more about BBPR.
The Mid-Currituck Bridge is needed to address the access and exit concerns that the thousands of visitors to the Outer Banks have had for more than 20 years. No more studies are needed; just build the bridge now!
ROBERT D. PALOMBO
The author is secretary of the group, Build the Bridge-Preserve Our Roads, Inc.