- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

COROLLA, N.C. (AP) - An updated report from a private engineering firm shows the price tag on the proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge to Corolla could rise by up to $85 million.

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reports (https://bit.ly/2eiSA96 ) the project of about $600 million has risen and fallen in priority over more than 25 years despite strong support from elected officials. The span would cut nearly an hour off a trip to Corolla from Hampton Roads in Virginia and relieve traffic congestion on N.C. Highway12 through Duck and Southern Shores.

The draft report, done by a private engineering firm in September and recently released to the public, updates a 2012 study on costs, tolls and environmental impacts.

The 2012 report estimated the cost of the bridge at between $502 million and $594 million. The latest estimate puts the cost at between $569 million and $679 million, accounting for inflation. The study estimates construction to begin in 2018, with completion in December 2022. Last year, Gov. Pat McCrory announced construction could be accelerated to as soon as 2017.

Meanwhile, communities and traffic affected by the bridge are growing at a slower pace than what was predicted in 2012, the report said.

Summer weekday traffic last year on N.C. 12 in Duck reached 18,000 vehicles a day, according to the report. That count is 6,000 less than in 2006.

Also, the latest report predicts summer traffic in the year 2040 on N.C. 12 in Duck would be 30,300 vehicles a day if no bridge was built. That is nearly 6,000 fewer vehicles than forecast four years ago.

With the latest figures, opponents of the bridge are urging the state to drop construction plans, saying it’s too expensive, not necessary and harmful to the community and environment.

“Not only will the Mid-Currituck Bridge destroy the character of Currituck County, it will place an immense financial burden on coastal taxpayers,” said Jen Symonds, leader of a local citizens group opposing the bridge. “NCDOT’s new numbers confirm what we’ve been saying for years: The bridge is a colossal waste of taxpayer money.”

Nicole Meister, spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said highway officials are reviewing it.


Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com

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