SELC files appeal to block Mid-Currituck Bridge

By on January 31, 2022

As had been widely anticipated, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) announced on Jan. 31 that it is appealing U.S. District Court Judge Louise Wood Flanagan’s Dec. 13 ruling  against its suit that wants to block the construction of the Mid-Currituck Bridge.  See the Dec. 19 Voice story on that ruling.

In a related development, Southern Shores Town Council decided at its Jan. 5 meeting (Jan. 5 Voice story) to take some short-term steps to try and push the bridge project along, included working with the Duck Town Council to possibly get involved in the legal proceedings.

Here are excerpts of the SELC announcement.

On behalf of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation and local residents from the Currituck mainland and northern Outer Banks, the Southern Environmental Law Center today filed an appeal asking the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to declare the illegal and outdated analysis prepared for the Mid-Currituck Bridge invalid.   

The $500M Mid-Currituck Bridge has not been through a legally required, robust public review of costs and impacts since 2012 despite significant changes over the past decade. The cost of the bridge has risen, while the cost of cheaper alternative solutions has gone down even further.  At the same time, projections of sea level rise now show the roads around the proposed toll-bridge will be under water and unusable long before the project will be paid for.

“The Mid-Currituck Bridge is an extraordinarily bad investment for North Carolina,” said Kym Hunter, senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.  “The bridge would primarily serve out-of-state tourists and only for a few weekends in the summer.  When you factor in the limited use, the availability of cheaper and less damaging alternatives, and that much of the bridge project area will soon begin to flood and become less reliable due to sea level rise, it is hard to think of a worse way for North Carolina to spend scarce transportation funds.  We urge Governor Cooper to think again before making this big and costly mistake.  In the meantime, we will continue to challenge the illegal analysis in court.”

Resident group “No Mid-Currituck Bridge,” and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation originally challenged the agencies’ decision to move forward with the Mid-Currituck Bridge in 2019.  In federal district court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, the groups previously argued that the agencies violated the law by failing to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement that considers up-to-date climate data and development trends.

They also argued that the agencies failed to assess the environmental impacts associated with increased development that the bridge will cause and failed to consider less damaging and less expensive alternatives, including a multi-faceted transportation solution offered by the groups that would ease peak congestion days.


  • WindyBill

    Oh my, what a surprise. Nothing like this ever happened on the OBX before. Yawn. The quick and cheap (relativly) solution is to widen US 158 to 5 lanes eastbound from the Wright bridge to the Visitors Center. The theme could be “Free the People of Dare County”. The majority of people and businesses lare south of the Visitors Center. Our much needed weekend employees and our economic lifeblood is seriously impeded by the northern beaches and towns traffic problems. Let it be their problem, not ours. If the new left 2 lanes become a weekend parking lot, again their problem, not ours.

    Monday, Jan 31 @ 12:58 pm
  • Scott

    “The bridge would primarily serve out-of-state tourists and only for a few weekends in the summer”. This person obviously doesn’t live in Southern Shores, or Duck. I also love how they state that there are cheaper, and less damaging alternatives, but not a single one is listed.
    Increased development the bridge will cause? There isn’t a square foot of land left to develop on the Corolla side, and nobody would want to build on the mainland side near the bridge.

    Monday, Jan 31 @ 1:44 pm
  • Haynes

    The Kitty Hawk Town Council And The Army Corp of Engineers have done the same exact thing to the much needed Maritime Forest at the corner of W Kitty Hawk Road and Ridge Rd. The Town of Kitty Hawk has had hundreds if not thousands of years for these natural estuaries to form and add protection from the rising sea levels but, to no avail, or concern the Army Corp of Engineers along with the Towns of The Outer Banks are allowing these sensitive areas to disappear quicker than they can spend the money from development they think these changes will bring. When we”re all washed away because there has been no forethought then I guess it reall won’t matter. Its’

    Monday, Jan 31 @ 2:08 pm
  • One

    In the meantime all communities and property rental companies should be hard at work To cut down these Saturday to Saturday and Sunday to Sunday rentals
    Let’s offer a little incentive for Monday to Monday Tuesday Tuesday Wednesday Wednesday Thursday Thursday Friday Friday rentals

    Monday, Jan 31 @ 2:44 pm
  • Jan

    I’m interested in what the “multifaceted transportation solution “ is.

    Monday, Jan 31 @ 8:57 pm
  • Currituck

    An older local said, 20+ years ago to me, ” I’ll believe they will build that bridge when I am driving across it”. We had a good laugh about it. I thought he was dead wrong. He still lives down the street. I think I will stop by this afternoon and apologize for every doubting his words of wisdom.

    To all that think Mother Nature can be controlled. I grew up 50 miles from the coast on the Cape Fear river. I used to walk the banks and pickup sharks teeth that were once covered by 30-40 feet of soil. That entire region was once under the ocean.This includes all that you can see from your top floor deck. Man will be here but for a blink of an eye in the greater scheme.
    Trying slow or control the changes that are happening, with other people’s money, is pure folly.

    Tuesday, Feb 1 @ 6:57 am
  • JR

    Lets be realistic….development has and will continue with or without the Mid-County bridge. There is very little left to build on and this bridge has been in legal battles for over 30 years. That is where the money is waisted. All these environmental studies….for what??? Bridges are built everywhere over bodies of water…..they actually help some aquatic life. I don’t care one way or the other. It’s always been “I don’t want it in my backyard”….but lets put it in your backyard!!! Bridge or no bridge…the traffic problem will always be a problem during the summer months….its not going to change!!! So just make a decision and quit waisting time and money on lawsuits and studies…..and if the one study suggest the area where the bridge comes in will be flooded before construction is complete….then we better start evacuating now!

    Tuesday, Feb 1 @ 7:34 am
  • Steven

    SELC can do this only because the laws were changed to specifically allow it, permitting them to sue any public works projects, without actual grounds for doing so.
    And when they win a case, their fees are paid by the U.S. taxpayer.
    It’s a money making scheme, they have no interest in what is best for the area, it’s communities, it’s people, or the environment.


    Tuesday, Feb 1 @ 1:28 pm
  • gsurf123

    This bridge not happening will be the best thing that could happen to Southern Shores and north. The last thing anyone wants is commuters and low value day trippers adding to the traffic mix. The benefits of having it are near zero except for 10 or so weekends a year. There are cheaper solutions like changing the rental start/stop days (start with Friday to Friday) or better traffic control combined with more lanes..

    Tuesday, Feb 1 @ 7:38 pm
  • Steven

    Everyone know what the problem is, but only a few voice it. It’s certainly not the roadways or lack of a bridge or weekend check in/out..

    Wednesday, Feb 2 @ 5:53 am
  • WindyBill

    Check-ins beginning on Mon to Fri. have been tried before starting in the 90’s by Kitty Dunes and a few others. The publics interest rapidly wained despite their having a couple days off at home to recover afterwards. It would be easier to herd cats than to train the public, but perhaps if the rental companies got together on a stragtegy it maybe could work. Legal question: Would agreeing on an UNspecified discount on Fridays pass the ‘price fixing’ test of NC and the Feds? Good luck getting that in writing first. Perhaps, since the public good is involved, the NC Attorney General office is a place to start. Or, would more lanes be faster?

    Thursday, Feb 3 @ 3:29 pm
  • Disgruntled

    “The cost of the bridge has risen, while the cost of cheaper alternative solutions has gone down even further.” ????
    That really needs explained, starting with what alternatives. Rotating check in days does sound like an option worth exploring, although the way we’re growing it may just mean traffic jams everyday.

    “At the same time, projections of sea level rise now show the roads around the proposed toll-bridge will be under water and unusable long before the project will be paid for.”
    What roads will be flooding? If you really think this is in our future would it not be a good idea to have an alternative Rt. that doesn’t flood? Or are they predicting the Northern OBX will be useless.

    What is the environmental impact? Seems the bridge would offer easy access to a larger work force to support the uncontrolled growth we’ve been experiencing. It’s fairly obvious the economy will dictate the growth, not having a bridge isn’t slowing down anything.

    I’m indifferent about this bridge, I can avoid going north, especially on weekends. Like so many other public discussions it sounds like SELC is simply spewing talking points with no merit. Perhaps their outdated analysis prepared for the Mid-Currituck Bridge is what needs reviewed.

    Friday, Feb 4 @ 6:11 am
  • Curious

    Anyone else curious how a major accident or breakdowns on a 2-lane bridge will play out after folk spent $50 to cross?

    Lately, several times a season Rt 12N is closed both directions
    last time was when bicyclist was hit and drivers didn’t even know enough to pull over to let emergency responders through

    Bridge or No bridge- either Rt 12 needs an emergency lane even if it means digging up those flower pots in Duck and bridge design needs a second look for 4- lanes or emergency lane

    Friday, Feb 4 @ 8:54 am
  • Stan Clough

    Bald Eagles nesting in the area have been a problem for years. Has anyone killed the Eagles ? I hope not

    Friday, Feb 4 @ 5:11 pm