RALEIGH — A unanimous federal appeals court panel is overturning North Carolina’s plans to save money by simply replacing a crucial Outer Banks bridge while chunks of the island where traffic passes is threatened by rising waves.
A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday ruled unanimously that a lower court judge was wrong to favor North Carolina’s position that construction to replace the Bonner Bridge should start. The federal judge last September allowed an exception to laws protecting a wildlife refuge and now will have to dig more deeply into the case.
The dispute centers on a state plan to replicate the existing 2.5-mile bridge across Oregon Inlet at a cost of $216 million. The bridge is the only span connecting the mainland to Hatteras Island.