Thursday, June 24, 2010

We Need Your Help Here Too!

We have a public comment period coming up for the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project with public hearings to be held on 4th of July week...a hard time to get people to come out and participate, but it is what it is. It's do or die time for this project to move forward.

The committee will have a booth at the "Stand in the Sand" on Friday at the Fessenden center and the public is welcome to learn more about the issues and sign support statements that will be submitted for public comment when the hearings start on July 6th.

It's really imperative to get as many comments as possible submitted in support of moving the project forward to a "Record of Decision" the other alternative would be that NCDOT would have to do yet another draft supplement to the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) publish it, put it out for public comment, respond to public comment, then release a Final supplement to the Final Environmental Impact Statement publish it, put it out for public comment, respond to public comment, then release a "Record of Decision". If the latter occurs it would significantly and adversely affect the timeline for the replacement of the bridge. We cannot afford any further delays!

The 2006 structural assessment for the bridge identified about 36 million worth of repairs...we are working our way through those now, just to keep the load limits up. However, the engineers who wrote the assessment stated that regardless of the repairs, due to the "advanced stages of deterioration" replacement by 2016 is a "necessity". Even if we start next spring, we are pushing that "replace by" date too close for comfort since we are looking at a 4 year build time, let alone if the whole FEIS rigmarole has to happen yet again.

Your help is needed NOW

Replacing the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet is long overdue. Any further delay risks the loss of this vital transportation lifeline to Hatteras Island, which would be an economic catastrophe for the region.

The people have had to endure an endless series of environmental studies and challenges designed only to stall the process while jeopardizing public safety.

Now a new preferred alternative from NCDOT calls for immediate replacement of the Bonner Bridge. This reasonable and practical approach has the support of the Federal Highway Administration, The Environmental Protection Agency, and State and Local officials.

The new preferred alternative requires public hearings that are scheduled for July 6 & 8.

We hope these will be the last public hearings needed before construction can finally begin.

Let your voice be heard. Take a stand in support of replacing the bridge NOW.

Public comments are urgently needed from residents, visitors, vacation property owners,

and businesses on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, throughout Dare County and the region.

Public Hearings will be held –

July 6th – Manteo, 7:00pm

Dare County Commissioners Meeting Room

954 Marshall C. Collins Drive, Manteo

July 8th – Buxton, 7:00pm

Cape Hatteras Elementary School Cafeteria

47500 Middle Ridge Trail, Buxton

Voice your support at these hearings for NCDOT’s new Preferred Alternative.

Key components of the new Preferred Alternative would –

· Replace the Bonner Bridge immediately with a new parallel bridge

· Eliminate the “Long Bridge” Alternative, which is impractical and unfundable

· Use a Transportation Management Plan for future development of NC Hwy 12

· Recommend immediate construction without further environmental studies & delays

Remember –

On an average day, 5,000 vehicles use the Bonner Bridge. This doubles to almost 10,000 per day on a busy summer day. If this critical transportation link were lost, ferry service would not be able to support the economy and tourism that has developed since the bridge opened to traffic in 1963. Even an emergency ferry could only accommodate 650 cars a day, weather permitting.

For More Information –

Find complete details about the hearing process at:

If you are unable to attend the public hearings in Dare County, on-line and written comments will be accepted until August 9, 2010. Detailed information is on the website.

Beth Midgett


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