Monday, June 27, 2011

Investigative Work being done in the Sound for Mid-Currituck Bridge

There are some very interesting time tables within this article from the Daily Avance. Have a look.

Firm to collect soil samples for bridge

By Cindy Beamon

The Daily Advance

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A company will be collecting soil samples in the Currituck Sound and inland through next month to aid the design of the mid-county bridge.

Golder Associates in Raleigh began its geotechnical investigation of the sound and property near the proposed seven-mile span about a week ago.

The work involves drilling into the ground’s subsurface to determine soil types. Analysts can then determine what type of foundation is needed for the bridge, said Tim Griffin, operations manager for Golder.

He said the six-man team is using a cone penetrometer to collect the data. The instrument is hydraulically pushed into the ground with up to 40,000 pounds of pressure. Sensors at the tip determine the physical properties of the floor bottom of the sound.

The company notified about 20 property owners last fall about where the work on land would be done. The $660 million bridge would connect the county’s mainland near Aydlett to the Outer Banks at Corolla.

The geotechnical investigation is expected to take until July 23.

The construction consulting company will then analyze the data and recommend what size, depth, width and number of pilings are needed to hold up the bridge.

The information will be used in to determine a final design for the project, said Jennifer Harris, director of planning and environmental studies for the N.C. Turnpike Authority, the state agency overseeing the bridge’s development and construction.

Harris said Golder is a subcontractor for Currituck Development Group, a group of 17 private companies that has contracted with the state for the pre-construction phase of the project. The project’s major contractor ACS Infrastructure Development has signed a $5 million contract with the Turnpike Authority for the pre-development work.

Harris said the next step in the bridge project will be winding up environmental negotiations with state and federal agencies and the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement by the end of summer.

The Turnpike Authority is aiming to have a record of decision by fall, which would allow the Turnpike Authority to proceed with final design plans and to obtain construction permits.

If the project goes according to schedule, the bridge could be open to traffic by 2016, Harris said.

Under the proposed timetable, right-of-way acquisition could begin by late 2012. According to preliminary plans, an estimated eight residences and businesses would be displaced by the construction project. Other properties would also be affected but would not require displacement. The number of affected properties may change, however, after plans are finalized.

Last winter, the Turnpike Authority announced its preferred route for the bridge. On the mainland, the plan calls for a U.S. Highway 158 toll plaza interchange north of Aydlett. The approach would include a two-lane bridge over Maple Swamp.

In Corolla, the approach would intersect N.C. Highway 12 between the first phase of Corolla Bay subdivision and the northern end of Monteray Shores about 300 feet away from homes and lots west of N.C. 12.

Harris said no other site work at the bridge site is currently scheduled.

Friday, June 10, 2011

4WD Area Refuge Expanding Off-Limits Zone to 1.5 miles from Ramp

The Army Corps of Engineers have expanded the no parking area on the beach in front of the refuge to MP 14. Below is an article from the AP citing the rationale.

Public ban expanded for portions of Currituck refuge

The Associated Press
© June 9, 2011

Army Corps of Engineers officials are expanding a ban on public visits to portions of the Currituck National Wildlife Refuge due to the danger of unexploded ammunition at the site.

Refuge Manager Mike Hoff said today that signs warning motorists to stay away from the area known as the Monkey Island Unit did not deter 650 trespassers from attempting to visit there last year.

The unit, named for a former hunting club, once served as a Navy gunnery practice site.

Currituck County has historically had a no parking and no stopping zone beginning about a half-mile north of Corolla.

This year, the zone will be extended southward to run continuously from the town of Corolla to a point 1 ½ miles north, identified as Mile Post 14.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Property Values to be reassessed for Jan 1, 2013

Currituck residents enjoy a very reasonable tax rate compared to many other Counties and Towns across the country as we can depend on visitors infusing the County with money via sales tax, occupancy tax, second/rental home property tax, and a demand for services that fuels employment needs. This luxury relieves the county (mostly) of having to internally generate these revenue streams like so many other counties that don't have a high visitor base to help foot the bill for services, schools, etc..

The County reassesses the real estate property values every 8 years, the last being in 2005, where values were at their peak. The Currituck Outer Banks values shot up the most, thus the majority of the tax revenues came from the vacation homes. With the reassessment of property values set to occur Jan 1, 2013, those same beach properties will likely be assessed much lower since they have fallen considerably in value during the downward shift in the economy. Two things will likely occur, mainland Currituck will account for a larger portion of the revenue percentage and the tax rate will go up to cover the spread on the budget in 2013. Cindy Beamon of the Daily Advance has picked up on some of this and her article is below

Currituck land values likely to decline in new valuation

By Cindy Beamon

The Daily Advance

Friday, June 3, 2011

More New property valuations will not take effect in Currituck until 2013, but the process starts this summer to update land appraisals.

Landowners can expect appraisers to begin visiting properties in July or August, said County Manager Dan Scanlon. The process will take about a year, and by next summer, residents should be mailed the new values. Residents will then have a chance to appeal the evaluations before they take effect, Scanlon said.

Even before the new appraisals begin, county officials are predicting that land values will be down. The county’s last evaluation eight years ago was at the height of a housing boom, and property values have dropped significantly since then.

Property values on the Outer Banks, harder hit by the real estate market’s decline, are expected to drop more dramatically than on the mainland.

The uneven drop in property values is likely to shift more of the tax burden to the mainland, Scanlon predicted. At present, Corolla provides about 56 percent of the county’s property tax income, but the steep drop in values on the Outer Banks is likely to reduce that percentage, he said. The overall effect will be that property owners on the mainland will be paying a greater portion of property taxes in the county.

Another possible effect of the decreased property values would be an increase in the county tax rate.

At present, property owners pay 32 cents per $100 valuation. For a property owner with land valued at $100,000, the tax would be $320. If the landowner’s property value drops 20 percent with the new valuation, the same property valued at $80,000 would generate $256 in taxes.

The overall effect countywide, would be less income for governmental services. To compensate for the loss, the county will need to raise property taxes to generate the same revenue, Scanlon explained.

“We would have to raise the tax rate to maintain the same level of services,” he said.

The effect on individual taxpayers would depend on the new tax rate and how much their property decreases in value.

Property owners on the Outer Banks where land values are expected to drop the most are less likely to see their bills go up as the tax rate goes up.

Property owners on the mainland where values are expected drop less dramatically are more likely to see their tax bills go up as the tax rate rises.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mid-Currituck Bridge funding put back in proposed budget

Some tough negotiations on behalf of our local public figures have (thus far) restored the funding for the Bridge. Below is an article from the Virginia Pilot:

N.C. budget plan restores funding for Currituck bridge

The newest version of the Senate budget would allocate $15 million annually for the next two years for "gap funding" toward a $660 million toll bridge across the Currituck Sound.

By Jeff Hampton
The Virginian-Pilot
© June 1, 2011

The North Carolina Senate budget of $19.7 billion released today restores funding for the mid-Currituck bridge and the Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City.

The budget would allocate $15 million annually for the next two years for gap funding toward a $660 million toll bridge across the Currituck Sound from Aydlett to Corolla. County officials in Dare and Currituck have supported the project, but many Aydlett and Corolla residents oppose it. Private contractors are set to build and operate the bridge and charge tolls to help pay the costs.

Two years ago the General Assembly set aside $15 million annually to fill the gap that tolls would not cover, but bridge construction was delayed. The latest budget reallocates the $30 million set aside over the last two years to buy school buses.

Last week a version from the Senate eliminated funding for the bridge and other projects and institutions in the northeast.

“Rep. (Tim) Spear and I worked real hard to get this funding back,” said Rep. Bill Owens, D-Pasquotank.

The new budget also restores $959,000 in salaries and benefits for 15 full-time employees of the Museum of the Albemarle. Last week’s budget eliminated all the positions and would have forced closure of the 50,000-square-foot museum on the Elizabeth City waterfront. Five positions were cut last year, museum Director Ed Merrell said. About 40,000 people visit the museum each year, he said.

The Currituck and Ocracoke ferries will not be required to charge a toll, Owens said. Also restored was small-schools funding used in Camden, Tyrrell and other rural counties with small populations, he said.

The Senate budget is expected to go before the House by the end of the week and to the governor next week, Owens said.