Groups opposed to a new bridge over the Currituck Sound linking Corolla to the mainland filed suit in federal court Tuesday.
The bridge would lead to growth in undisturbed areas along the northern Outer Banks, increase pollution in the sound and surrounding habitat and damage the ecosystem that helps handle storm surge, flooding and sea level rise, according to the suit filed by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation and the No Mid-Currituck Bridge Concerned Citizens, among others.
The Federal Highway Administration officially approved the project last month following more than 20 years of environmental impact studies, public hearings and delays.
The 6.2-mile, 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.
State and federal authorities did not properly consider alternatives such as widening N.C. 12 and improving the intersection of U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 in Southern Shores, according to the suit.
"The proposed bridge would only really be used for 13 weekends a year during peak vacation time," No MCB co-founder Jen Symonds said in a news release.
U.S. 158 and N.C. 12 often back up with traffic, especially on summer Saturdays. Currituck County and several municipalities have expressed support for the bridge for years. The bridge would relieve traffic pressure on the two Outer Banks routes, according to its proponents.
The groups filed their lawsuit under the National Environmental Policy Act in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.