OBX group sues state, feds over new Rodanthe Bridge

A digital rendering of the new Rodanthe Bridge.

RODANTHE, N.C. (WAVY) — A group in the Outer Banks has filed a lawsuit against state and federal officials over the new Rodanthe Bridge project.

The group, Save Our Sound OBX Inc., is alleging that officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration did not do a full environmental review and had no intention of taking  an “authentic look at the impacts” of the “Jug-Handle Bridge.”

NCDOT awards contract to design, build new Rodanthe bridge

The group’s lawsuit argues that the state’s approval of the Rodanthe project was “unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious” and is asking it to be vacated in North Carolina federal court.

Save Our Sounds is arguing that officials “unreasonably” excluded other more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternatives for the project. The group says officials violated the National Environmental Policy Act and other relate laws in the process.

Read: Save Our Sound Lawsuit

The group’s lawsuit also alleges the officials agreed to this bridge in exchange for the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) dropping a lawsuit that had sought block the state from replacing the Bonner Bridge.

NCDOT officials awarded a contract to the new Rodanthe Bridge in mid-January. The bridge is supposed to extend from the south end of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge over the Pamlico Sound into Rodanthe.

Defendants agreed to build the Jug-Handle Bridge to suit the environmentalists’ demands to save a small portion of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge through which North Carolina Highway 12 (“NC-12”) already runs.

Officials say the bridge is a long-term solution to keep the vulnerable N.C. Highway 12 open. Construction on the bridge is expected to start as early as January 2018.

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