bonner bridge passes appeals test but confusion remains
A federal Court of Appeals agrees with much of US District Judge Louse Flanagan’s rejection of the Southern Environmental Law Center’s suit to halt construction of a replacement for the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet. However, a key finding in Flanagan’s findings is being questioned by the Appeals Court and the judge has been asked to reexamine her findings. This article from the Outer Banks Voice gives an excellent overview of the decision.
“The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said that highway planners had complied with federal policy on environmental review of the project, affirming much of a ruling last year by a U.S. District Court judge.
But the appeals panel ordered the judge to take a closer look at her ruling that the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration were exempt from certain regulations that would apply to construction in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.
The appeals panel said it was not convinced that plans for a public road — N.C. 12 — and the establishment of the refuge in 1938 were “concurrent,” which was the basis of the exemption.
If the judge finds that the exemption was in error, she can still decide that highway planners have satisfied federal regulations with studies they have already done on alternatives for N.C. 12 south of the span. They must show that plans for N.C. 12 improvements are essential and would do the least harm to the refuge.”