By Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice on February 23, 2023
In a Feb. 23 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld a December 2021 U.S. District Court ruling against a Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) suit, thus paving the way for the Mid-Currituck project to move ahead. (Read the decision here: 221103.P.pdf (uscourts.gov)
The proposed five-mile toll bridge from Aydlett on the Currituck mainland to the Currituck Outer Banks, with an estimated $600 million price tag, is viewed by many in Dare County as a way to mitigate major summer traffic congestion problems in towns such as Southern Shores and Duck. Both of those towns—as well as Currituck County, Dare County Tourism Board, Duck Community and Business Alliance and the Currituck Chamber of Commerce—have filed Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) briefs in the case, supporting the construction of the bridge.
In a passage summing up its decision, the Fourth Circuit ruling stated that the “Plaintiffs—an environmental organization and a group of citizens opposed to the bridge—claim the defendants didn’t follow the procedures laid out in the National Environmental Policy Act…when they approved the bridge project. The district court disagreed and granted summary judgment for the defendants. We affirm.”
In a statement after the Feb. 23 ruling, the Town of Southern Shores responded that, “The Court of Appeals basically found that the Transportation Agencies did not violate the National Environmental Policy Act in approving the bridge project. This decision overcomes a huge hurdle and allows planning, design and permitting work to resume.”
In the statement, Southern Shores Mayor Elizabeth Morey added that “the Town wishes to express its appreciation for all those whose hard work paid off in advancing the construction of this much- needed infrastructure.”
An email to the Voice from Duck Public Information Officer Kay Nickens noted that, “The Town is pleased with this decision and looks forward to the future development of the mid-Currituck Bridge.”
The SELC suit against the bridge was filed on behalf of the N.C. Wildlife Federation and a group called No Mid-Currituck Bridge, which is comprised of local residents on the mainland and Outer Banks who are opposed to the bridge. After Judge Louise Wood Flanagan of the US District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled against the plaintiffs on Dec. 13, 2021, SELC appealed to the Fourth Circuit a little over a month later.
A release issued by SELC after the Feb. 23 ruling quoted senior attorney Kym Meyer stating that “North Carolina has many unmet transportation needs along its coast, but the Mid-Currituck Bridge is not one of them. We will continue to work to ensure that North Carolina money is not wasted on this costly, unwise project. There are much more affordable solutions to ease traffic in this area of the Outer Banks, and those solutions can be put in place much more swiftly, and with less damage to the Currituck Sound.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a complete joke, posing as some environmental or social justice organization. The aquatic environment is not threatened by a bridge, in fact it harbors life. But their lawyer quickly illustrates how dishonest they in pursuit of their claims, as she says, “There are much more affordable solutions to ease traffic in this area of the Outer Banks, and those solutions can be put in place much more swiftly”…I sat in their briefing to Southern Shores City Council. Their solution? Put round a-bouts in every current stop light intersection and more up and down the entire OBX to increase traffic flow! A complete JOKE! Besides not working, I would love to see how their eminent domain when over with all of the OBX property owners!!
PLEASE Kym Meyer tell us what these affordable solutions you speak of are. Making a statement without backing it up is WORTHLESS.
Duck may start resolving the traffic problem by not having mid-morning trash pickup on Hwy 12. Trash trucks backing up traffic is just plain stupid.
Kdh backseat reviewer
Over under on how many more court filings to stop the bridge? I got 1.5.
Currituck might want to get ahead and think how the bridge will affect Currituck
How is ending thousands of cars idling on Rt.12 (esp. along Sea Oats in SS) every Sat. & Sun. NOT good for the environment?
I think it’s rich that SELC is now concerned about the efficiency of our Budget when all they do is spend taxpayer’s money frivolously…
SELC cost the State and Tax payers millions of more dollars with all the delays involving the replacement bridge across Oregon Inlet. They’ve done the same with the Mid County Bridge. Glad for the ruling. Will be interesting to see what other delaying tactics SELC have up their sleeve.
John, they are far from the poverty law center, Kym and Co paid themselves a little over $22m (FYE March 2022) from donations received from people and organizations foolish enough to give them money or who have a vested interest in their legal shenanigans along the NC coast. They couldn’t care less about anything other than lining their pockets under the guise of Environmental protection. Sadly when this necessary project does move ahead what they will have achieved is doubling what it would have cost if the Bridge was built when it should have been. Unfortunate times we live in.
If they are worried about damage to the sound, then why on earth have they pushed for so long for a 17 mile bridge from Oregon Inlet all the way to Rodanthe??
So glad they have been told to pound sand for once…though I’m sure they will come up with who knows how many additional ways to hold things up via the courts…
“There are much more affordable solutions to ease traffic in this area of the Outer Banks” Really? I’m glad I’m not the only one to notice that ridiculous statement. It goes right along with their ridiculous “solutions”.
Ridiculous arguments from the environmentalists when they support building 200ft wind turbines off of our coast.
In the event of a hurricane, You cannot safely evacuate tens of thousands of people using a 2 lane highway.
BUILD THAT DAMN BRIDGE!!
Corolla is the only beach area allowed to develop with no direct access on the East Coast. No permits were denied by State and Local agencies. Now the occupancy is still increasing there due to increased house size. Five bedroom homes are being replaced with much larger structures and remodeled into 10 bedroom homes. That scenario could easily increase visitor numbers by 50%. It is time for reality to prevail. SELC does good work in many areas. They are far off base on this issue. It is not about the Sound. The Sound will be fine. it is about the quality of life in Northern Dare County year round.
As for hurricanes, we generally have five days to prepare or leave. Plenty of time.
The area never should have been built up and destroyed like it has.
BUILD IT!! STOP STALLING
Who will go after the SELC for legal charges?
They’ve made millions when they find a friendly judge who grants them their fees.
SELC -Southern Enviromental Law Center, NOT Southern Poverty Law Center, SPLC!
Get acronyms correct before disparaging a wonderful organization
Let’s collectively pray that they do not decide to appeal to the US Supreme Court and waste more of our time and taxpayer money!!
The NCDOT should now be able to quickly move forward with permitting and receiving bid proposals. The expedited ruling by the appellate court should put the project back on track for completion by 2030.
GREG. It is ‘Southern Environmental Legal Cashflow Center’.
As long as it’s not in your backyard people are all for it. No concern for the people who will be displaced/affected on both sides of the sound.
And in case you obviously missed it, I intentionally used the description “Poverty Law Center” … because that is what they truly champion, our poverty.