State News

Basnight seeks Obama's backing for Outer Banks bridge

Posted February 26, 2010 11:29 a.m. EST
Updated February 26, 2010 11:41 a.m. EST

The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge connects Hatteras Island with the mainland.

— State Senate leader Marc Basnight has asked President Barack Obama to remove what he calls legal bottlenecks for building a new bridge to the Outer Banks.

Basnight wrote this week to Obama that construction of the replacement for the aging Herbert C. Bonner Bridge is at a "bureaucratic standstill" because of a maze of complex and repetitive questions from the federal government.

"We continue to face unnecessary delays from a government that is more worried about the litigious threats of out-of-state environmental groups than about the public safety and economic well-being of the millions of motorists who cross the bridge every year," he wrote. "I plead with you to right this wrong that has wasted millions of dollars and infinite red tape over the years."

The 47-year-old bridge crosses Oregon Inlet and is a key highway corridor for hurricane evacuations and Outer Banks tourism. A replacement bridge will cost more than $1 billion.

The Dare County Democrat asked Obama to urge the Interior and Transportation departments to accept a design approved by the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers.

"I would argue that the Bonner replacement project is the most studied bridge in the history of our country. It is far past time to take action," he wrote.