Mid-Currituck Bridge, NC

A proposed toll bridge across the Currituck Sound in North Carolina would bring many ill effects, harming natural areas and life.


Photo © Sublette

A Heavy Toll from Proposed Span across Currituck Sound

The North Carolina Department of Transportation wants to build a $600M seven-mile toll bridge across the Currituck Sound to the northernmost section of the Outer Banks. An outdated and unnecessary project first proposed decades ago, the Mid-Currituck Bridge has resurfaced as a toll project. It would usher in a host of ill effects, including

  • further beachfront development in an area already vulnerable to erosion, hurricanes, rising sea levels, and other threats likely to become more severe as a result of global climate change;
  • damage to water quality and aquatic habitat in the Currituck estuary; and
  • thousands more vehicles and traffic on the beaches of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge.

The bridge would also put further stress on other nature preserves and natural heritage sites in the area that are vital not only to migratory birds and other wildlife but also to nature-related tourism.

A Financial Burden

The bridge would place an unnecessary burden on the state’s financial coffers. Tolls would be high—as much as $50 per vehicle—but would cover only a fraction of the bridge’s $600 million price tag. In 2013, the Southern Environmental Law Center worked with a diverse coalition of groups from both sides ot the political aisle to pass legislation that removed earmarked funding for the bridge and made it subject to a partially data-driven scoring system. Still, local politicians who insist the $600M bridge be constructed have determined to set aside almost the entire transportation budget for North Carolina's coastal region to construct the bridge. The net effect would be to rob scarce funds needed for more pressing transportation needs, including needed improvements to stretches of NC 12 that frequently wash out.

Inadequate Analysis

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed formal objections to the NCDOT's analysis of the $600M bridge's environmental impacts. In addition to failing to assess the project’s full impacts on the area and life, the analysis failed to consider more sensible and less harmful alternatives, such as improvements to existing roads and bridges or ferry service across the sound. Shallow-draft ferries now being used effectively in other coastal areas could be ideal for this location.

SELC is working alongside local opponents from the Aydlet and Corolla areas and conservation groups to ensure that state and federal agencies take an objective look at this ill-conceived project and to disclose its true impact on the North Carolina coast and the natural treasures that make it so special. 

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