Eastern North Carolina is inching closer to its first toll project, a $490 million venture that would include two bridges and connect the mainland to Corolla in Currituck County. In March, the Federal Highway Administration approved plans for the proposed 4.7-mile Mid-Currituck Bridge and a 1.5-mile bridge across the Maple Swamp on the mainland. The approval marks one of the first signoffs required for the project that could open as soon as 2023. It would be about 20 miles from the nearest bridge and could dramatically change the Outer Banks’ landscape while easing traffic that draws steady complaints from residents and tourists.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has studied the bridge for more than 40 years but never secured a funding source. Now, the project hinges on the N.C. Turnpike Authority’s plan to use toll revenue to cover much of its cost. The state’s investment is estimated at more than $170 million. Still on deck are land acquisitions, environmental permits and final construction plans.