RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Transportation can now participate in an action filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center in the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings challenging the issuance of the Coastal Area Management Act permit, a required state permit for replacing the Bonner Bridge. The Honorable Julian Mann III issued the order allowing NCDOT to intervene in the action filed by the SELC, on behalf of the Defenders of Wildlife and National Wildlife Refuge Association, against the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Coastal Management for issuing the permit to NCDOT. NCDOT filed the motion to intervene on Sept. 20.
"I want to thank Judge Mann for his rapid and thoughtful decision that takes into consideration the safety and welfare of the people of eastern NC and the tourism industry that relies on this vital bridge and lifeline along the Outer Banks," said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata.
The CAMA permit challenge is the final legal hurdle preventing the department from moving forward with replacing the existing bridge, which stands on borrowed time.
On Sept. 16, NCDOT received a favorable ruling in the federal lawsuit filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Defenders of Wildlife and National Wildlife Refuge Association when Judge Louise Flanagan issued a 42-page order denying all claims that NCDOT violated federal law when the department studied and selected the parallel bridge.
The documents relating to the state action as well as the federal ruling are available on the Bonner Bridge Replacement webpage.
Once the CAMA permit challenge is resolved and the final permits are secured from federal agencies, NCDOT immediately will move forward with construction of the new bridge. NCDOT awarded a contract to a design-build team to replace the bridge in August 2011. Design work began immediately and construction of the replacement bridge was originally set to begin in early 2013.
At this time, the Bonner Bridge remains safe for travel; NCDOT teams are constantly monitoring the bridge and if safety ever becomes a concern the bridge would be closed immediately.
NCDOT has already spent more than $56 million in necessary repairs, inspection and maintenance on the 50-year-old bridge since beginning the process to replace it more than two decades ago.
Two additional repair projects on the Bonner Bridge, which total $2 million, which are needed to keep this critical transportation corridor open, will start this fall.
Read more about the history of the Bonner Bridge and challenges to building a new one.
A $388,910 concrete repair project began this week. As part of the project crews will apply concrete patches to areas of the bridge to protect exposed steel. These areas were identified for priority maintenance during the last regular two-year inspection of the bridge that took place in 2012.
The second repair project, totaling $1.4 million, includes repairs to the supplemental supports of the bridge. Work on that project will begin in the next few weeks.
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