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Mediator to help resolve impasse on N. Carolina Outer Banks bridge

RALEIGH, N.C — A mediator will try to help settle a legal fight between North Carolina and environmental groups over a replacement bridge for the span linking inhabited Hatteras Island to the mainland Outer Banks. The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that the state Department of Transportation and Southern Environmental Law Center made the request jointly to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court agreed late last week.

Lawsuits have delayed construction of a 2.8-mile bridge over Oregon Inlet that mirrors the path of the current Bonner Bridge, built in 1963 and designed to last 30 years. The center’s plaintiffs prefer a 17-mile bridge going into Pamlico Sound to avoid the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The 4th Circuit panel issued a mixed-bag ruling in August for both sides.