Governor Pat McCrory and Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata have called on environmental groups to drop their legal challenges to the construction of a replacement for Bonner Bridge. They delivered their request in a letter.
The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge is the sole span connecting Hatteras Island to the mainland. It was closed Tuesday by Secretary Tata after divers and sonar readings found that scouring at the structure's pilings made the bridge unsafe.
Governor McCrory inspected the bridge earlier today, met with local officials and was debriefed by Department of Transportation engineers.
"I share your frustration," Governor McCrory said. "The Bonner Bridge is vital to the safety and economy of the Island. It's a lifeline to billions of dollars from tourism."
The Bonner Bridge was opened in 1963 and was designed for a 30-year life span.Secretary Tata has continually said the bridge is operating on borrowed time.
In his letter to the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, Governor McCrory wrote "Your lawsuits are standing in the way of progress for the people, the environment and the economy of Hatteras Island and Eastern North Carolina You and your organization are responsible for these delays and should consider yourself accountable to the people of Hatteras Island and the taxpayers of North Carolina."
Expressing support for the governor's action were many local officials, including Senator Bill Cook, Representative Paul Tine and Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Warren Judge, among others.
On Thursday, Governor McCrory declared a State of Emergency so repairs could start immediately. Dredging to place more sand around the bridge's bents was started Friday.
A $1.6 million contract to repair the bridge has been awarded to Carolina Bridge Company.