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For those who didn't see it

http://www.wavy.com:80/Global/story.asp?S=7316933&nav=menu45_2

*****




The piece you aired on Monday, Nov. 5, 2007 regarding the Bonner Bridge was very well done. That said, the conclusion that Governor Easley delayed the process is in error. More specifically, you stated that:

State and federal agencies were prepared to sign off on a 17.5 mile long bridge to Rodanthe in July 2003.

This is not accurate. The purpose of the Merger Team meeting in July of 2003 was to finalize concurrence point 2 and 2A—selection of corridor alternatives and corridor lengths to be STUDIED in the SDEIS.1 In fact, as per the documents presented in Appendix B of the 2005 SDEIS, the state and federal agencies did sing off on two possible versions of the 17.5 mile bridge as alternatives to be STUDIED in the SDEIS.2 The SDEIS that presented the detailed study of the 17.5 mile bridge alternatives was not published until September 2005.

The point is, as of July 2003, the process was still at the stage of identifying alternatives to be studied in the SDEIS published in 2005. This is quite different from “signing off” on a specific alternative (Concurrence Point 3)3 . Merger team meetings conducted for the purpose of “signing off” on a specific alternative (Concurrence Point 3) were not even held until 2007. Alternatively stated, while state and federal agencies may have been prepared to sign off on a preferred alternative, the NEPA process had not, as of July 2003, progressed to the point where “signing off” was an option. This being the case, the conclusion that

In September Governor Easley delayed the process, allowing the county to propose an alternative.

is also in error. Allowing the county to propose an alternative to the long bridge did not cause a DELAY in the process but rather was a part of the NEPA process which REQUIRES detailed study of ALL viable alternatives.


1. From Chapter 8 of the 2005 SDEIS

8.3.1.3 July 23, 2003 Meeting
The main objectives of this meeting were to discuss revising concurrence point 2—selection of corridor alternatives to be studied in the SDEIS—and to identify alignment locations to evaluate within the corridor and to discuss bridge lengths (at concurrence point 2A).

The USFWS indicated that in order to issue a permit for a replacement bridge landing in the Refuge, such a replacement bridge would have to be determined to be compatible with the purpose and mission of the Refuge. Based largely upon serious reflection and coordination within the USFWS since the February 12, 2003 meeting, the Refuge had concluded that it was unlikely that Corridor Alternative 1 could be determined compatible. The NEPA/Section 404 Merger Team therefore concurred to drop Corridor Alternative 1 wide from further consideration and focus the attention of the SDEIS on Corridor Alternative 4 (referred to in this SDEIS as the Pamlico Sound Bridge Corridor.) The NEPA/Section 404 Merger Team also concurred that the bridge should be placed approximately 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) farther west than agreed to at the
February 12, 2003 meeting in order to reduce the need for dredging during construction.

The NEPA/Section 404 Merger Team also concurred that two termini options at Rodanthe should be evaluated in the SDEIS, Segment A (Curved Rodanthe Terminus) and Segment C (Intersection Rodanthe Terminus). The assessment of alignment alternatives that was the basis for these decisions is presented in Section 2.4 of Chapter 2 and in Figure 2-4.

The signed concurrence forms for concurrence points 2 and 2A are presented in Appendix B. This decision was revisited again at the July 26, 2004 meeting, which is described in the next section.

2. Appendix B, page B-13.
3. See page 8-6of the 2005 SDEIS for a full description of the concurrence process.
 
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