RALEIGH — A federal judge sided with the North Carolina Department of Transportation on the construction of a 2.4-mile bridge that will carry the road out into the Pamlico Sound to avoid Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, the News & Observer reported.
N.C. 12 would go around a section of the refuge and into the village of Rodanthe, closing nearly 20 miles of the roadway prone to ocean overwash.
Save Our Sound OBX members argued that the jug-handle bridge was being rushed without taking into account the full environmental impacts and asked the courts to prevent NCDOT from moving forward with the $145 million bridge.
The Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association joined NCDOT in defending the bridge. The two groups were represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which had sued NCDOT to try to stop replacement of the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet, north of the wildlife refuge. They wanted instead a 17-mile bridge over the inlet and around the wildlife refuge into Rodanthe.
NCDOT said the 17-mile bridge would cost too much. Instead, NCDOT agreed to consider building the jug-handle bridge at the southern end of the refuge. The Rodanthe bridge would require taking 2.79 acres of refuge land, but also return and restore 19.27 acres where part of N.C. 12 would be removed.