The mid Currituck Bridge project received federal approval opening the way for construction of the span that could save hours on the drive from Hampton Roads to Corolla.
The Federal Highway Administration issued the required “record of decision” following more than 20 years of environmental impact studies, public hearings and delays.
“This is a major milestone in delivering this project, that the local communities requested,” Chris Werner, acting executive director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, said in a release Friday. “The mid-Currituck Bridge will provide much-needed transportation improvements for hurricane evacuation clearance times and connectivity to the Outer Banks.”
The 6.2-mile long, two-lane toll bridge would cross the Currituck Sound connecting Corolla and Aydlett and cross a swamp before intersecting with U.S. 158 south of Coinjock. It would cost an estimated $440 million. The project also includes improvements to N.C. 12 and minor enhancements to the Wright Memorial Bridge to help with hurricane evacuation.
A citizens group and environmental organizations have opposed its construction and lawsuits could follow. The bridge would bring more development to the area and “destroy the tranquil setting of Aydlett,” according to a petition by the citizens group. Opponents have said it could adversely affect the habitat of the Currituck Sound and the nearby wetlands.
U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 often backup with traffic especially on summer Saturdays. Currituck County and several municipalities have expressed support for the bridge for years.
The record of decision allows the Turnpike Authority to begin acquiring right-of-way and permits to begin construction, the release said. No construction date is set.