Bridging the gap
Everyone agrees that the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, which turns 50 this year, needs replacing. The question is how and where N.C. 12 — the only road access from Hatteras Island to the northern Outer Banks and mainland — should span Oregon Inlet. The N.C. Department of Transportation is ready to do it with a $215.8 million bridge at roughly the same place. But it can’t start until a federal judge rules on a suit filed by Charlottesville, Va.-based Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of two environmental groups that want to quash that route. They contend the department didn’t give due consideration to routes that jut into Pamlico Sound and skirt Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. It would be less expensive to divert funds from other road projects to cover the nearly billion-dollar cost of a longer bridge than to keep open the Pea Island stretch of N.C. 12, which is often damaged due to storms and their higher tides. But DOT can’t shift money, spokeswoman Greer Beaty says, adding, “There’s overwhelming local support for the more-efficient, less-expensive Bonner Bridge.”
ENFIELD — Klausner Lumber Two will open a sawmill here, investing $110 million and creating 350 jobs within three years. The Austrian company makes lumber products for the construction, packaging and furniture industries. Average annual salary will be $32,603, higher than Halifax County’s average of $27,924.
NEW BERN — Hatteras Yachts is laying off 105 of 545 workers at its plant here because of market conditions. Its Lake Forest, Ill.-based parent, Brunswick Corp., announced it has put Hatteras and CABO boat lines, both based here, up for sale to focus on its Sea Ray and Meridian Yachts brands.
SIMS — International WoodFuels will build a wood-pellet plant, investing $60 million and creating 32 jobs within three years. The San Diego-based company makes renewable fuel for European electric utilities, a growing market the state hopes to expand by building wood-pellet terminals in Morehead City and Wilmington (Regional Report, January 2013).
WILMINGTON — CBS Television Studios will film an adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Under the Dome here. The 13-episode miniseries will air this summer.
GOLDSBORO — ACX Pacific Northwest will open an animal-feed plant here, investing $4.7 million and creating 38 jobs within three years. The Bakersfield, Calif.-based company sells alfalfa hay, oat hay, grass hay and other products in Asian and Middle Eastern markets.