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A Road Repair Shortcut Could Be A Budget Perk For The Governor

Morning on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore
Outer Banks Real Estate
Flickr Creative Commons

A provision in the proposed budget deal would allow the governor to bypass environmental reviews for road projects along the coast.

It indicates that during a state of emergency, the governor could issue an executive order to waive the required environmental permits to replace state highways along the Atlantic.

The provision is said to be a recourse for municipalities whose sole access to the mainland is a state highway.

Derb Carter is with the Southern Environmental Law Center in North Carolina, a group currently litigating parts of NC Highway 12 with the state.  He criticizes the move.

"This fits right into their whole approach of providing transportation on the Outer Banks is, wait for the next emergency and figure out what you're going to do in response to it," says Carter.

Communities like Hatteras Island would be affected most.  It's among the areas where a state highway is the only access on or off.  Carter says he thinks the budget provision is a bit short sighted.

"Part of the issue in the cases down there is the failure on the part of the state and the Department of Transportation to provide a long-range plan to provide access to Hatteras Island in an environmentally responsible way," he says.

A spokesperson for NCDOT says the provision would not affect federal permits, which are often required in conjunction with state permits. They say the provision would streamline the process for the state to make improvements during disasters.

Eric Mennel prepares the afternoon/evening "drive time" newscast on WUNC. Previously, he was a producer for The Story with Dick Gordon. Eric has reported for All Things Considered, This American Life, 99% Invisible and other radio programs. He covered protests and security measures at the 2012 Republican National Convention for WUSF Tampa and NPR News. One day, he hopes to own a home with a wrap-around porch.
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