Friday, June 20, 2008

Senate Budget Proposal Allocates Funds For Bridge

It seems there is quite a bit of momentum for the Mid-County Bridge nowadays. A recent report shows a healthy amount of private investors lining up for th project and now the "public" portion of this project has allocated funds in the State Budget. Below is the full article from the Daily Advance:

By Zac Goldstein
Staff Writer
Daily Advance

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The budget proposed by the state Senate on Tuesday includes $15 million per year for the mid-Currituck Bridge.

The proposed two-lane, seven mile bridge would link Currituck's mainland near Aydlett with the Outer Banks south of Corolla across the Currituck Sound. The bridge has an estimated price tag of nearly $460 million and is set to open in 2013.

Partial funding for the bridge comes from a provision in the Senate budget which allows money from the Highway Trust Fund to go to the North Carolina Turnpike Authority for construction of toll roads. Of the $64 million appropriated annually from the Highway Trust Fund, $15 million will go to debt servicing and other financing expenses for the bridge over 39 years.

With costs factored in, about $198 million will go toward the bridge, according to the Turnpike Authority.

"After many years of hard work, the Mid-Currituck Bridge is coming closer to being built to benefit the residents and visitors of the northern Outer Banks," state Sen. Marc Basnight, D-Dare, said in a release.

Basnight, an early supporter of the bridge, said the budget provision would allow the bridge to be built with environmentally friendly features such as a pedestrian walkway and a bike path.

The budget, including the funding provision, has yet to be voted on by the full Senate. Even if it is adopted, the bridge will remain a public-private partnership with private investors picking up the remainder of the bridge's cost. The Turnpike Authority is currently soliciting qualifications from investors and contractor to design, build and finance the project.

While a toll for the bridge has yet to be determined, the Turnpike Authority had proposed $12 for a round trip over 39 years in order to pay back investors. According to the Turnpike Authority, the estimated toll amount will not be affected by the budget provision as the toll amount was calculated with the state funding in mind.

When complete, the bridge is expected to relieve congestion on the Wright Memorial Bridge which links Currituck and Dare counties.