Saturday, July 4, 2009

Bridge Impact Study Delay could save millions

The draft Environmental Impact Study for the Currituck Mid-County Bridge will be delayed until the fall but doesn't appear to delay the timeline of the bridge according to the NC Turnpike Authority. It could actually result in a significant cost savings. See the article below from the Daily Advance:

Delaying study could save $60M on bridge
By Jennifer Preyss
Staff Writer

Pushing back release of a draft study of the Mid-Currituck Bridge project won’t delay the span’s completion date but could shave about $60 million off its final cost, the group planning the bridge said this week.

North Carolina Turnpike Authority engineers elected to reschedule the draft environmental study’s release date until September because they wanted more time to investigate modifications to the mid-county bridge’s design, Jennifer Harris, a staff engineer with the Turnpike Authority said.

Harris said delaying the EIS statement, which originally was due out earlier this year, could trim nearly $60 million off the 7-mile bridge’s cost and help improve its overall functionality when it opens in 2013.

“An additional design construction option has been introduced as a cost-saving (mechanism) and we’re investigating that now,” Harris said.

The bridge, which would attach the Currituck mainland with the northern beaches of Corolla, is estimated to cost about $659.2 million. Delaying the EIS until September could bring that cost down to about $600 million.

Delaying the EIS also will prevent engineers from having to complete a supplementary EIS statement at a more advanced stage in the project, Harris said.

Using the extra time to modify the bridge’s design does not change the three preliminary bridge concepts known as MCB2, MCB4 and no bridge option ER2, but may reconfigure portions of the bridge, including the toll stations on U.S. Highway 158, Harris said.

The current design places the eastbound and westbound toll stations farther apart, she said. A new design may place them closer together and reposition them further east near the Currituck Sound.

However, exact design changes are still unknown, she noted, because the Turnpike Authority has only been discussing modifications to the bridge for less than two weeks.

The postponement will not delay the bridge project’s starting date of late 2010 or its projected completion date of 2013, Harris said.

In May, the Turnpike Authority entered into a public-private partnership with ACS Infrastructure Development, Inc. to build the bridge.

ACS is expected to finance the cost of the project and be compensated over a 40-year period through the collection of toll fees, currently estimated to be $10 to $12 per crossing.

Harris said the public will be notified when changes to the project are made.