No Outer Banks topic inspires more heated debates than the Mid Currituck Bridge. The two-lane toll bridge from the Currituck mainland to Corolla has staunch supporters and opponents from all over the globe. Both sides seem to think that their opinion is the sole choice for the future of OBX.
That future just jumped into the fast lane with news coming out of Raleigh last week that the timeline for the bridge was being advanced. Once slated to begin construction in 2019, the governor’s office announced the project would begin in 2017 instead. This is now possible because of budget reforms passed in August that granted $700 million in new funding for transportation. The bridge is just one of four projects having their timetables sped up in the state.
This announcement comes on the heels of the North Carolina Board of Transportation approving a request for $5.7 million to purchase land in Corolla earlier this month. The seven acre stretch of property lies to the north of the Food Lion shopping center and just south of the Corolla Bay housing development. Currently owned by Towne Bank, the land will be the eastern terminus of the Mid-Currituck Bridge upon completion.
Even with these different milestones, many people feel though that the talk is all political posturing in advance of state elections next year. Residents and tourists alike have adopted the philosophy of “I’ll Believe it When I See it” with regards to the project actually getting underway. Especially since it has been talked about and in various stages of development for decades.
Proponents of the bridge see it as necessary for the growth of the Outer Banks as a tourist destination, as well as for the safety of residents and guests. On summer weekends, Rt. 158 and Rt. 12N can back up for miles in a number of locations and in both directions depending on the time of day. Supporters feel that without the bridge, the multiple hours of added travel time will cause some vacationers to spend their summers elsewhere. Evacuation concerns in the event of a natural disaster are also frequently listed as another reason the bridge is needed.
Opponents contend that the easier access to the beaches of Corolla and Carova will lead to over development of the area and the eventual removal of the Corolla Wild Horses. Some feel that crime levels will also skyrocket with easier access. But the main complaint seen across social media channels, is that the overall cost of $410 million is too much for a bridge used mostly on weekends just three months of the year.
No matter which side of the bridge debate you fall on though, there is still plenty of time before the first piling is scheduled to be laid in Currituck Sound even with this advancement of the project timeline. As they say, anything can and will happen.
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