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DOT Awards Bonner Bridge Contract

The state Department of Transportation has awarded a contract for what it says is the most cost-effective plan to build a new Bonner Bridge. The existing bridge that connects Hatteras Island to the northern Outer Banks is nearly 50 years old and cost the DOT more than $26 million to repair over the last decade. The contract awarded to PCL Civil Constructors and HDR Engineering is the cheapest of the three proposals at $216 million, but also got the lowest technical score from state officials. DOT spokeswoman Dara Demi says the agency uses a policy to decide on contracts that takes into account the cost of the project, its technical score, and the state of the economy.

Dara Demi: "We would have felt comfortable with any of those three teams being awarded the contract, but by using a set formula, we can find a way to quantify the quality that we would be getting as a result of this work."

Environmental groups have sued to stop the work. They favor a longer bridge costing about a billion dollars that would bypass the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Demi says the DOT is going forward with plans until a judge rules on the lawsuit. The DOT is requiring the new bridge to be built of stainless steel and corrosion resistant concrete. Construction is set to begin by the end of next year with the new bridge opening in 2015.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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