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Talks underway to break stalemate in Bonner Bridge replacement

Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-16 18:48:37-04

Hatteras Island, N.C. (WTKR) - Talks are underway between the two sides who have faced off for years in a dispute regarding replacing the aging Bonner Bridge.

The bridge provides the only highway access on and off Hatteras Island.

In a joint statement Monday afternoon, North Carolina's Department of Transportation and the Southern Environmental Law Center say they are now in confidential discussions about replacing the bridge with a parallel span.

They are also talking about long-term solutions for the stretch of N.C. 12 south of the Bonner down to Rodanthe.

The release says that following an August ruling by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, both sides decided it would be best to move forward with "confidential discussions to resolve the bridge dispute."

You can read the full ruling from the court here.

“We remain committed to building a new parallel bridge over the Oregon Inlet to ensure the safety of Outer Banks residents and visitors,” said Transportation Secretary Tony Tata in the release. “We have been in conversations with the SELC about the Bonner Bridge project for more than a year and believe these recent proactive discussions are a positive step toward a permanent solution.”

“We are continuing to work together with NCDOT to resolve this matter with a reliable, long-term solution that ensures the safety of the traveling public and avoids the problems that currently threaten NC 12,” said Derb Carter, Director of the North Carolina offices of the Southern Environmental Law Center said in the release.

Beth Midgett has led a citizen's group in Dare County pushing for the replacement of the Bonner Bridge since 2006.

"It's a good thing. It's a good thing. It just shows that hopefully we are reaching a final endpoint to everything," she told NewsChannel 3's Todd Corillo Tuesday.

NCDOT and the SELC said in their statement that they would not discuss further the details of any compromise until "conversations are complete and the issue is resolved."

Related:

Court ruling puts Bonner Bridge replacement on hold again

When could a new Bonner Bridge be built?

Engineers work to determine if Bonner Bridge is safe for traffic

NCDOT starts dredging in hopes of reopening the Bonner Bridge