Shooting The Breeze


Hi, and welcome to my "Editor's Blog"! In this space I'll be attempting to keep our readers informed on fast-breaking news and issues affecting our islands. Visit often. There's a lot going on!

Enjoy the Island Free Press and, even more importantly, enjoy our wonderful barrier island!!!




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Replacing the Bonner Bridge may be moving forward again -- just maybe

Friday 12 June 2009 at 08:56 am Dare County’s Citizens’ Action Committee to Replace the Bonner Bridge met for the first time in almost a year on Wednesday, June 10.

And, for the first time in quite some months, the committee and county officials were energized and hopeful that the effort to build a replacement for the aging Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet might move forward.

The committee had a teleconference with Jim Trogdon, North Carolina Department of Transportation’s chief operating officer, and other members of the DOT staff.

“We have concurrence on the merger team, and we are moving ahead,” Trogdon said.
He also noted that DOT has “more confidence that we have the right consensus and are headed in the right direction.”

The merger team consists of several dozen representatives of local, state, and federal agencies that have a stake in the bridge replacement project and the problems with Highway 12 through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

“The merger team,” he told the group, “has agreed on a replacement for the Bonner Bridge and is still working on options for the highway south of Pea Island, and especially at the entrance to Rodanthe.”

The team, he said, agrees that the replacement will be a parallel bridge to the west of the current bridge. It will be 2.7 miles long and will cost about $300 million – money that the state already has in its budget. Read More

A conversation with the park superintendent

Monday 08 June 2009 at 5:24 pm Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray is the most accessible park leader that I have covered in 18 years of reporting news on Hatteras and Ocracoke.

You may agree with the actions he takes or the direction in which he takes the seashore – or you may not.  Some think Murray is held hostage by the Department of Interior solicitors who have more to say than he does about the management of the seashore – especially after environmental groups filed a lawsuit over off-road vehicle access on the seashore in 2007.

But the fact remains that this man is accessible by phone and by e-mail, really seems to endorse transparency in park actions, and has remained calm and patient despite all the grief that has come his way since he took over as superintendent in December, 2005. Indeed, he has been squeezed by ORV access groups, environmental groups, lawyers, business people, residents, and who knows who else, and he always remains poised, answering questions – some quite ill-informed -- with respect  and as much detail as he can.

Granted that this is his job, but I think, he is good for the seashore.

Murray has been meeting with local reporters in “media roundtables” since the beginning of his administration in the park.  We meet about three or four times a year.  Sometimes he calls us to meet, and sometimes we call him to remind him it’s time to meet.

Sometimes, there’s a lot on his agenda and on ours.  Sometimes, not. Read More

More ramp closures put the big squeeze on Hatteras beaches

Tuesday 02 June 2009 at 10:20 am Fewer than 10 miles of beach on Hatteras Island are now open to off-road vehicles.

That’s fewer than 10 miles on the island’s more than 50 miles of shoreline.

And much of the beach that is closed to ORVs is also closed to pedestrians.

These are resource closures – areas that are closed to protect nesting shorebirds and colonial waterbirds.

The northern end of Hatteras – about 13 or so miles – is part of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and is off limits to ORVs all year.

The beaches in front of the villages are closed to ORVs as part of the usual summer safety closures to protect pedestrians.

Ramp 23 south of Salvo was closed yesterday for breeding least terns. Read More