US appeals panel reverses Outer Banks bridge work

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Associated Press

Posted on August 6, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 6 at 5:30 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — 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.

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