RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The North Carolina Department of Transportation announced in a statement Monday that along with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Federal Highway Administration, an agreement has been made with environmental groups to replace the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge.
The bridge spans the Oregon Inlet and will be replaced with a new parallel bridge.
As part of the agreement, the NCDOT will also look into options that would move vulnerable parts of N.C. Highway 12 out of the southern half of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and into Pamlico Sound.
Bonner Bridge is desperately in need of repair and maintenance and the replacement bridge is needed to ensure the safety of drivers, as well as the economic vitality of the Outer Banks, the statement said.
“We appreciate the efforts of all parties to agree on a viable solution that best serves the people and interests of North Carolina,” said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata in the statement. “The settlement agreement will allow NCDOT to provide a safe and reliable bridge for thousands of residents who rely on this lifeline to get to work, school, and healthcare and for millions of visitors who travel to the Outer Banks every year.”
“We are pleased that NCDOT and its partner agencies will consider additional options for N.C. 12 that will provide safe, reliable transportation by avoiding the areas where erosion and washouts shut down the road in its current location. This is a win-win for the Refuge and everyone who relies on N.C. 12,” said Julie Youngman, senior attorney with SELC, who represented the conservation groups.
As part of the agreement, and after specific tasks are completed, the conservation groups will dismiss both federal and state Bonner Bridge-related lawsuits, the statement said.