Tata blames environmentalists for Bonner Bridge woes - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Sec. Tata blames environmentalists for Bonner Bridge woes

Posted: Updated:
The Bonner Bridge is a 2.5-mile span over the Oregon Inlet to Hatteras Island that connects as many as 13,000 vehicles with a road to the mainland. The Bonner Bridge is a 2.5-mile span over the Oregon Inlet to Hatteras Island that connects as many as 13,000 vehicles with a road to the mainland.
MANTEO, N.C. -

Efforts to block construction of a replacement for the Bonner Bridge are to blame for the current problems that led officials to close it to traffic, N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said Wednesday.

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reports Tata told a news conference that blame for the delay in replacing the bridge lies with environmental groups who filed a lawsuit. He described them as "ivory tower elitists" who have no connection to the people of Hatteras Island.

"It's all about winning for them," Tata said.

In September, a federal judge approved plans for a parallel span to replace the 50-year-old bridge, rejecting the objections of environmentalists who were pushing for a 17-mile bridge over the Pamlico Sound with an estimated price tag of $1.1 billion.

The Southern Environmental Law Center is appealing the judge's decision. It has argued that building a parallel bridge to connect to N.C. Highway 12 on Hatteras Island ignores washouts and breaches on the coastal road. Tata has said the SELC's appeal hurts the state's ability to keep the bridge open.

"Secretary Tata is trying to distract the people of Hatteras Island and of North Carolina from the critical issue - that NCDOT has failed to provide a long-term, reliable route to Rodanthe that will not be repeatedly washed out and shut down for decades to come," said SELC senior attorney Julie Youngman.

DOT has asked Gov. Pat McCrory to sign an emergency declaration that would allow a dredge to be brought in as well as make repairs to the bridge. The governor was traveling outside the state Wednesday.

The department announced Wednesday that it has awarded a $1.6 million contract to Carolina Bridge Company Inc. of Orangeburg, S.C. for emergency repairs to the bridge. NCDOT and the contractor are working together to develop a timeframe for the repairs to be complete.

The DOT declared last week that the inlet had scoured out sand around the base of supports at the southern end of the bridge, near Hatteras Island.

Subsequent sonar tests and divers found there was more sand gone in that section of the bridge than previously thought, a DOT spokesman said. Reopening the bridge will require fortifying the bridge's support columns and bringing in additional sand, according to the spokesman.

The Bonner Bridge is the only road access for vehicles between Hatteras Island and the mainland. DOT began operating an emergency ferry route between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe with limited service Tuesday night.

The bridge was designed to last 30 years when built in 1963. DOT began the process of trying to replace the Bonner Bridge in 1989 and awarded a contract of almost $216 million in 2011 for construction that was set to begin earlier this year.

RELATED STORIES

  • North Carolina NewsMore>>

  • McCrory coal ash announcement miffs GOP lawmakers

    McCrory coal ash announcement miffs GOP lawmakers

    Sunday, April 20 2014 3:48 PM EDT2014-04-20 19:48:26 GMT
    Some lawmakers say they were surprised and miffed by fellow Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's announcement that he's seeking legislation to beef up government oversight of coal ash dumps.
    Some lawmakers say they were surprised and miffed by fellow Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's announcement that he's seeking legislation to beef up government oversight of coal ash dumps.
  • McIntyre's retirement opens door for GOP in NC 7th

    McIntyre's retirement opens door for GOP in NC 7th

    Sunday, April 20 2014 12:33 PM EDT2014-04-20 16:33:02 GMT
    Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre will retire after nine terms representing North Carolina's 7th Congressional district.Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre will retire after nine terms representing North Carolina's 7th Congressional district.
    With McIntyre announcing his retirement after nine terms representing North Carolina's 7th Congressional district, Rouzer is back on the ballo.    
    With McIntyre announcing his retirement after nine terms representing North Carolina's 7th Congressional district, Rouzer is back on the ballo.    
  • Hagan contrasts persona, GOP in NC Senate campaign

    Hagan contrasts persona, GOP in NC Senate campaign

    Saturday, April 19 2014 11:51 AM EDT2014-04-19 15:51:50 GMT
    Kay Hagan's self-identification as a middle-of-the-road U.S. senator who fights for the middle class, among other groups, and responds effectively to constituent requests may sound trite coming from any politician's mouth seeking re-election.
    Kay Hagan's self-identification as a middle-of-the-road U.S. senator who fights for the middle class, among other groups, and responds effectively to constituent requests may sound trite coming from any politician's mouth seeking re-election.
  • Henry County Suspicious Activity

    Henry County Suspicious Activity

    Saturday, April 19 2014 10:07 PM EDT2014-04-20 02:07:16 GMT
    Press Release from the Henry County Sheriff's OfficeThe Henry County Sheriff’s Office received a call on April 18, 2014 regarding suspicious activity. Three white males driving a white pickup truck were seen in the area of Glen Court in the Ridgeway area of Henry County. The individuals walked to the back of a residence but a neighbor yelled at them and they left. Entry into the home was not gained. On April 19, 2014, three white males were seen on Andra Drive, also in Ridgeway. A male subjec...
    Press Release from the Henry County Sheriff's OfficeThe Henry County Sheriff’s Office received a call on April 18, 2014 regarding suspicious activity. Three white males driving a white pickup truck were seen in the area of Glen Court in the Ridgeway area of Henry County. The individuals walked to the back of a residence but a neighbor yelled at them and they left. Entry into the home was not gained. On April 19, 2014, three white males were seen on Andra Drive, also in Ridgeway. A male subjec...
  • 3 Blacksburg companies raise major capital

    3 Blacksburg companies raise major capital

    Thursday, April 17 2014 2:29 PM EDT2014-04-17 18:29:23 GMT
    Three Blacksburg companies have raised major capital recently.
    Three Blacksburg companies have raised major capital recently.
  • Bedford Co. Sheriff's Office investigates burglary at country club

    Bedford Co. Sheriff's Office investigates burglary at country club

    Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:16 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:16:02 GMT
    Investigators with the Bedford County Sheriff's Office are investigating a burglary of the Boonsboro Country Club.
    Investigators with the Bedford County Sheriff's Office are investigating a burglary of the Boonsboro Country Club.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

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