State wins federal OK for long-planned Mid-Currituck Bridge

By on March 8, 2019

Artist rendering of the bridge. (N.C. Turnpike Authority)

A Record of Decision has been received from the Federal Highway Administration for the Mid-Currituck Bridge, indicating federal approval of a span between Aydlett on the mainland and Corolla on the Outer Banks.

“This is a major milestone in delivering this project that the local communities requested,” said Chris Werner, acting executive Director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.

“The Mid-Currituck Bridge will provide much-needed transportation improvements for hurricane evacuation clearance times and connectivity to the Outer Banks.”

A need for an east-west crossing of the Currituck Sound was first identified in 1975 and formal planning began in 1995 by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The Turnpike Authority became involved in the project in 2006 when local leaders considered funding the project with toll revenue.

(North Carolina Department of Transportation)

The Mid-Currituck Bridge is billed as an additional evacuation route to an area of the state frequented by hurricanes. Currently, hurricane evacuation clearance times fail to meet the state designated standards of 18 hours, according to the state.

The 40-mile shortcut is expected to provide a travel time savings of about two hours one-way during peak travel periods.

“This is an important project for everyone who lives on or visits the Outer Banks,” said Dan Scanlon, Currituck County Manager. “It is encouraging to see the state reach this milestone after years of hard work from so many people.”

The project has an overall estimated cost of $440 million. Some of the funding is expected to come from bonds that will be paid back with toll revenue. The remainder is expected to come from a combination of state and federal transportation tax revenues.

After taking into account funding from toll revenue, the project has an estimated cost of $173 million to NCDOT.

There is not an estimated toll rate at this time. ​

The Record of Decision allows NCDOT and the Turnpike Authority to move the project forward and begin acquiring land needed for the project’s right-of-way, to obtain environmental permits and advance construction plans.

It will include a new 4.7-mile, two-lane toll bridge across the Currituck Sound and a 1.5-mile long bridge across the Maple Swamp, as part of the mainland approach road.

The project also includes improvements to N.C. 12 and minor enhancements to the Wright Memorial Bridge, aiding in hurricane evacuation.

U.S. 158 across the Wright Memorial Bridge is the only access from the north and west to the Outer Banks.

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Comments

  • Darkseas

    This is a good step forward. I’m restraining my enthusiasm because I was very enthused in 2012 and seven years later we seem to have gotten back to where we were then.

    However, it’s time to start thinking about some long term items.

    1) How is tolling to be done? To minimize backups at tolling booths, it should be all electronic. You drive under a gantry over the road without having to stop. This system has been in place on I-95 in Maryland and was implemented in the last few years on the Mass Pike/I-90 and the Tappen Zee Bridge in NY. Tolling might be best done in one direction only, that is, the toll pays for going and coming.

    2) How are tolls to be collected? North Carolina Quick Pass (the more expensive version) can collect E-ZPASS tolls, but traffic coming from the north will not have Quick Pass, so the bridge tolling needs to accept E-ZPass. I see this as being a bureaucratic obstacle, but perhaps one of some difficulty. But beyond this, the bridge should be able to collect tolls on vehicles without a Quick Pass or E-ZPass by reading the license plate and sending out a bill in the mail with a slightly higher charge for the effort. This is already a part of the NC Quick Pass system.

    3) How do you avoid penalizing residents of Currituck and Dare Counties who will regularly use the bridge? As many area residents know, Virginia E-ZPass offers a substantial discount through a sign-up program so that the dirver’s EZ-ZPass is charged a much lesser amount for trips on the Chesapeake Expressway. This should be done for the bridge as well. Perhaps a joint program to provide residents of both states with a discounts on the Expressway and/or bridge toll would be in order.

    4) How do you avoid creating a traffic jam where the bridge traffic merges into NC 168? or NC 12 in Corolla? This will take some well though out road design, leaving the possibility of more lane expansion in the future. Maybe far in the future a connection to the Chesapeake Expressway? At a minimum, there should be some very, very long merging lanes.

    5) It would be nice if the land acquisition could take into account the possibility of building another span of the bridge in the future. If done right — adequate lane capacity and not gouging on tolls — the bridge could pull in most of the traffic coming south for destinations all the way down to Duck.

    It would be nice if all these thing could be decided now, not after the bridge is built.

    Friday, Mar 8 @ 9:37 pm
  • Sean

    Oh so there’s a turnpike athority? And what exactly is that ? Is that a group of politicans that pay themselves to sit on a board and make decisions about turnpike and take funding away from projects. Sounds like a boondoggle to me haha! a turnpike athority.

    Saturday, Mar 9 @ 6:56 am
  • Dave H

    Wonder how long the outside eco-nazis will delay the construction of this bridge? The last one took an awful long time.

    Saturday, Mar 9 @ 7:15 am
  • Yay

    The best part is now Corolla’s entire economy, along with the irresponsible number of visitors they continue to pack in there, can develop and thrive on its own. It’s ridiculous that everything they do and bring in has to go so far south across one bridge and through 2 small towns.

    Saturday, Mar 9 @ 1:55 pm
  • Name of bridge

    I’m sure this will be called the Marc Basnight II Bridge

    Saturday, Mar 9 @ 4:42 pm
  • olin hardy

    Great News!

    Sunday, Mar 10 @ 10:37 am
  • olin hardy

    This bridge is very much needed!

    Sunday, Mar 10 @ 10:37 am
  • WombatNC

    Good news; now we might be able to head north (vise-versa) on summer weekends. A By-pass around Moyock and elimination of the traffic lights on 158 (under/over passes) should be the next step.

    Sunday, Mar 10 @ 11:30 am
  • Koo Flocks

    I strongly encourage fellow Obxers to fight, fight, fight against the tolls. Look what happened in Virginia. Downtown tunnel and Jordan bridge tolled. The common man and small business owners are taking in on the chin. Can you imagine paying a toll for the next 50plus years and it goes up every year? Friggin nightmare 😨. Tolls are a tax! Plain and simple. Have em pay for it straight up. C’mon people. Don’t let em get away with it.

    Sunday, Mar 10 @ 12:29 pm
  • Darkseas

    Koo Flocks,

    That’s why I suggested that NC do something similar for the bridge to what VA does for the Chesapeake Expressway — offer a discount.

    The “Chesapeake Expressway Discount program members pay just $0.75 for a 2 axle vehicle, plus membership fees” (which are $20 for 6 months). Trips are unlimited, including the $8 weekend in season rate.

    Moreover, why would we forego the opportunity to let visitors to the Outer Banks help pay for our bridge? They will make up the majority of the traffic during the May-September season. Also helping would be the truck traffic from Virginia coming down to do business or make deliveries.

    By using the bridge, you’d easily save several gallons of gas, making up for the toll.

    I don’t see the downside here. At worst, you can drive all the way down to the Wright Memorial and back up, which will cost you nothing– except gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.

    Monday, Mar 11 @ 1:10 am
  • Bob

    Yeah! It’s about time! Although now that I’ve said that, it will get held up for the next decade by the environmentalists… I’m sure some up north will not like the idea, but they should have thought of that before everything got so built up that the current road can’t handle the traffic. As for the tolls, it seems to me this is the perfect place for tolls. If you don’t like it, you can take the long way around like everyone has to do today…and with any luck, most won’t and traffic won’t be too bad. Why should everyone have to pay (via their taxes) for a bridge that only benefits vacationers and rental home owners in a small area…if it wasn’t for them, the existing road would still be sufficient.

    And for the record, this is coming from someone who just wants to be able to get to Hatteras without getting held up by traffic bound for the northern Outer Banks…

    Monday, Mar 11 @ 10:06 am
  • Dylan

    Calm down…..believe it when you see it. Recent history of bridge building process here tells me this be a long way off. [no pun intended]

    Monday, Mar 11 @ 10:26 am
  • Mindy

    Looks like it is all finally coming together for Corolla … now what about expanding the 4 lane through Columbia and replacing the god awful Alligator River Bridge? They are so busy building bridges but they forget about the Alligator River Bridge and it’s a major life line for folks coming from the west. As for tolls? It is apart of our travel and it is not going any where. The State has to get their dollars. Unfortunately tolls will be there to stay.

    Monday, Mar 11 @ 12:33 pm
  • surf123

    @Koo Flocks…The bridge (toll) is optional as you still will be able to drive around it. This is a bridge of convenience that serves not practical purpose other than to save time a 12 weekends or so a year. The hurricane evacuation reason is utter nonsense. It is a benefit to some degree, but will probably result in the backup being on 158 where the bridge terminates.

    Monday, Mar 11 @ 2:09 pm
  • Michael

    I agree with Mindy. Something has to be done with alligator river bridge. Enough is enough.

    Tuesday, Mar 12 @ 3:03 am
  • Corolla Resident

    “hurricane evacuation clearance times fail to meet the state designated standards of 18 hours,” HUH?!?! We essentially evacuate” this place in a matter of 6 hours or less every single Saturday in the summer. With as much advance warning as we get for hurricanes now, this plan has long outgrown it’s 1975/1995 planning. Give it up.

    Tuesday, Mar 12 @ 7:42 am
  • Nick

    @darkseas North Carolina’s QuickPass program is part of the E-ZPass network, so E-ZPass users can use their accounts on NC roads and QuickPass participants with the plastic transponders (not stickers) can use their passes where E-ZPass is accepted.

    Wednesday, Mar 13 @ 8:14 am
  • RetiredPolice

    For those families who live on Hatteras and Roanoke Islands, in Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, Duck and Corolla, this will be a real boost to the quality of life. How many hundreds of thousands of hours of driving will be reduced, resulting in less pollution, fewer accidents, wasted time, and a generally happier OBX experience? Emergency services will be able to respond in less time, given the reduction in traffic to most of these locations. And oh yeah, hurricane evacuations will also be vastly improved. BUILD THIS BRIDGE!

    Thursday, Mar 14 @ 3:44 pm
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