War of words over Bonner Bridge, as state tries to fast track re - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

War of words over Bonner Bridge, as state tries to fast track reopening

Posted: Updated:
Dare County's Bonner Bridge has been closed since Dec. 2. Dare County's Bonner Bridge has been closed since Dec. 2.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A war of words continues over a critical roadway at North Carolina's coast. 

The state hopes to fast track the reopening of the Bonner Bridge. Inspectors could be on site as early as Wednesday to figure out whether it can open back up to traffic.

North Carolina Transportation Secretary Tony Tata ordered it closed earlier this month amid safety concerns due to erosion. Since then, crews have worked to reinforce bridge pilings with extra sand.

This shut down has reignited the battle between environmental groups and the state over how to replace the bridge.

Secretary Tata raised eyebrows last week when he called The Southern Environmental Law Center, which has appealed a federal judge's ruling that construction on a new bridge can move forward, "Ivory Tower elitists that file these lawsuits from their air-conditioned offices in Chapel Hill," going on to say, "They do so with their lattes and their contempt."

The state wants to build a new 2.8 mile bridge, at a cost of about $216 million, and they want it done as soon as possible. Instead, SELC wants the state to build a longer, 17-mile bridge that would bypass the Oregon Inlet and much of Highway 12, which has washed out in some recent storms.  

The SELC told WUNC's "The State of Things" on Tuesday, the state will have to build shorter bridges eventually anyway.

"This is really a discussion about two bridges, that ultimately may be long bridges, one in the ocean, one in the sound," Derb Carter told WUNC's Frank Stasio. "Our view is that the cost would not be that different to go on and solve the problem now, and build a longer bridge."

Secretary Tata responded saying the so-called "long bridge" is too expensive and less environmentally sound.  

"This [the short bridge] is the least environmentally-damaging and practical alternative and so we are being good stewards of the environment," Tata said.

A 2012 estimate said the "long bridge" could be built for as little as $569 million. More current DOT estimates put that price between $800 million and $1.2 billion. It would also have to be built all at once. The DOT says they don't have a billion dollars to spend all at once.

NC DOT spokesperson Mike Charbonneau says bridge replacement now is critical as to not negatively impact summer tourism in future years.  A new bridge is not scheduled to open until 2016.

"When we can't get people to the Hatteras Island, it's not only a hardship for people who live there," Charbonneau said, "but it's a hardship on the economy of North Carolina."

An SELC spokesperson could not be reached for comment on Tuesday night.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

  • North Carolina NewsMore>>

  • NC GOP Senate candidates face off as early voting begins

    NC GOP Senate candidates face off as early voting begins

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 11:15 PM EDT2014-04-24 03:15:49 GMT
    The four top-polling Republican Senate candidates, vying to unseat Democrat Kay Hagan, debated on Wednesday night in Raleigh, the night before early voting was set to begin. The primary is May 6, but voters can start heading to the polls on Thursday.During the half hour televised debate, State House of Representatives Speaker Thom Tillis of Charlotte said he was leading a conservative revolution in Raleigh, cutting regulations and taking credit for falling unemployment numbers. Tillis faces c...
    The four top-polling Republican Senate candidates, vying to unseat Democrat Kay Hagan, debated on Wednesday night in Raleigh, the night before early voting was set to begin. The primary is May 6, but voters can start heading to the polls on Thursday.During the half hour televised debate, State House of Representatives Speaker Thom Tillis of Charlotte said he was leading a conservative revolution in Raleigh, cutting regulations and taking credit for falling unemployment numbers. Tillis faces c...
  • NC judge to rule against teacher tenure state law

    NC judge to rule against teacher tenure state law

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 7:18 PM EDT2014-04-23 23:18:26 GMT
    A Guilford County judge is backing two school districts fighting a North Carolina law that phases out job protections for public school teachers in favor of employment contracts.
    A Guilford County judge is backing two school districts fighting a North Carolina law that phases out job protections for public school teachers in favor of employment contracts.
  • Committee proposes rules for drone use in NC

    Committee proposes rules for drone use in NC

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:58 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:58:27 GMT
    A legislative committee approved a set of regulations that it hopes will calm people's fears about the use of drones while allowing the industry to flourish.
    A legislative committee approved a set of regulations that it hopes will calm people's fears about the use of drones while allowing the industry to flourish.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Squatters Move Into Soldier's Home and Refuse to Leave

    Squatters Move Into Soldier's Home and Refuse to Leave

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 2:25 PM EDT2014-04-23 18:25:50 GMT
    Alleged SquatterAlleged Squatter
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house.
    When soldier Michael Sharkey was deployed to Afghanistan two years ago, he asked a friend to watch over his New Port Richey house.
  • April Mugshots

    April Mugshots

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:42 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:42:32 GMT
    Thomas Allen WinstonThomas Allen Winston
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
    The following are mugshots and charges of individuals arrested between April 1-4 by the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office.
  • MUGS: 36 Arrests In Greenville Prostitution Sting

    MUGS: 36 Arrests In Greenville Prostitution Sting

    Wednesday, February 26 2014 12:58 PM EST2014-02-26 17:58:17 GMT
    The Greenville County Sheriff's Office, along with 26 other agencies throughout 15 states, participated in the event during National Day of Johns Arrest.The Greenville County Sheriff's Office, along with 26 other agencies throughout 15 states, participated in the event during National Day of Johns Arrest.
    The Greenville County Sheriff's Office, along with 26 other agencies throughout 15 states, participated in the event during National Day of Johns Arrest.
    The Greenville County Sheriff's Office, along with 26 other agencies throughout 15 states, participated in the event during National Day of Johns Arrest.
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Mom bites off dog's ear to save daughter during attack

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 2:49 PM EDT2014-04-22 18:49:19 GMT
    Image from CNN/KHOU-TVImage from CNN/KHOU-TV
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
    In a backyard in Alvin, swings a very lucky girl. Her name is Mackenzi Plass, or Kenzi for short, and she survived a dog attack and has undergone several surgeries."She'll be two and a half in May," said her very proud mother Chelsi Camp. "She's doing great. You wouldn't know it if you couldn't see."Mackenzi has scars on her face after the ordeal just weeks ago that put her mother's animal instincts to the test."You do whatever you can," said Camp. "I don't have physical strength at my side."...
  • Mom wins lawsuit against TSA after breast milk screening problems

    Mom wins lawsuit against TSA after breast milk screening problems

    Wednesday, April 23 2014 4:40 PM EDT2014-04-23 20:40:54 GMT
    A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed has reached a settlement with the Transportation Security Administration. Stacey
    A Southern California woman who was held at a Phoenix airport four years ago after refusing to have her breast milk X-rayed has reached a settlement with the Transportation Security Administration. Stacey
  • Owner of Raleigh 'Party Mansion' guilty of tax evasion

    Owner of Raleigh 'Party Mansion' guilty of tax evasion

    Monday, April 14 2014 4:07 PM EDT2014-04-14 20:07:04 GMT
    Claude Verbal II, who now lives in Miami, pleads guilty to a number of federal tax evasion charges.
    Claude Verbal II, who now lives in Miami, pleads guilty to a number of federal tax evasion charges.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.