Dare County, N.C. – A settlement agreement has been filed that will allow the North Carolina Department of Transportation to replace the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet with a new parallel bridge.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Federal Highway Administration have finalized the settlement agreement with Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center.
The conservation groups will dismiss both federal and state Bonner Bridge-related lawsuits after certain tasks are complete, including stopping the work on a 2.4 mile bridge within the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Under the agreement, NCDOT will also consider options that will move vulnerable portions of N.C. 12 out of the southern half of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and into Pamlico Sound.
The new Bonner Bridge will be constructed parallel to the existing Bonner Bridge.
“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. “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.