State and local elected officials weighed in this week after the announcement of a settlement agreement that allows the long-delayed Bonner Bridge replacement project to move forward.
Gov. Pat McCrory, N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and representatives of environmental groups opposed to the project gathered Monday on the beach at Nags Head to announce the agreement.
The Southern Environmental Law Center, representing Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, agreed to withdraw legal challenges that had stopped work under a $216 million construction contract awarded in 2011.
At issue were concerns that the state’s plan put at risk the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The agreement calls for construction of a replacement for the more than 50-year-old Bonner Bridge and a “jug-handle” bypass bridge around the refuge and the troublesome Mirlo Beach area to the south of the span on Highway 12.
According to an Outer Banks Voice report, State Sen, Bill Cook, R-1st District, said: “It’s a great day for the residents of the Outer Banks and the millions of visitors that travel to the area each year. I’m extremely thankful and grateful that this agreement has been reached to replace the Bonner Bridge.”
Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Bob Woodard called Monday an historic day for the County.
“Replacement of the Bonner Bridge will continue to provide log-term reliable, stable access to Hatteras Island, which is vital to Dare County and the State of North Carolina,” he said.