Local News

Cost Of Raising Bridge For Deer, Greenway To Cost Additional Taxpayer Bucks

Posted June 16, 2003

— How much should it cost to allow deer to walk under a bridge? Is it worth $1.2 million in tax dollars? The state Department of Transportation, environmentalists and local politicians think so.

The DOT plans to widen Highway 15-501 in Durham to six lanes. At New Hope Creek, the plan includes a new 8-foot-tall bridge.

Environmentalists and politicians from Durham and Orange County want the DOT to make the planned bridge 2 feet taller to better accommodate deer, other wildlife and eventually a greenway.

The state agreed to raise the bridge, but it also raises the price tag for the project from $1.9 million to $3.1 million.

Some taxpayers WRAL talked to said the additional $1.2 million is too much.

"I guess wildlife is important and all. Of course, frankly, I think that's a pretty expensive bill just to raise the bridge," said one taxpayer.

"Probably would be against it, I think people are more important than deer," said another.

Lyndo Tippett, North Carolina's transportation secretary, supports the plan.

"It is additional cost, but I think it's modest for the benefits which have accrued therewith," Tippett said.

Tippett said the bridge raise is not just for deer. It will also help bikers, hikers, and nature lovers who want to stroll along New Hope Creek.

The DOT said it is building an environmentally friendly bridge. Some taxpayers believe it is not friendly to an already strained state budget.

Construction on the project is not scheduled to begin until 2005.


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