Judge Louise Flanagan has issued a decision against a motion from the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) seeking to block construction of a replacement for the 50-year-old Bonner Bridge in North Carolina, the Charlotte Observer reported.
SELC’s petition stated that the new bridge was a threat to the environment of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, which it spans. The group, which is representing the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, also said the bridge was a waste of taxpayer dollars, because it would be vulnerable to storm damage. The existing bridge, which stretches 2.5 miles across Oregon Inlet connecting N.C. 12 on the Outer Banks with Bodie and Hatteras islands, has been damaged several times by storms.
SELC proposed replacing the bridge with a high-speed ferry service, but state transportation officials said the ferry service would be unable to handle the volume of travelers during peak vacation times with nearly 11,000 vehicles crossing the bridge each day. The group also proposed building the new bridge across Pamlico Sound to the village of Rodanthe. State officials objected to that plan because it would add considerable travel time.
PCL Civil Constructors was scheduled to begin work on the $215.8 million project this year. The DOT says the bridge is near the end of its life.