New Hope Creek Corridor Advisory Committee

 

Turkey Road Bridge

Our committee is attempting to influence North Carolina Department of Transportation planning for a new bridge over New Hope Creek at Turkey Farm Road, near Johnston Mill Nature Preserve. Below is a letter from Ryke Longest of Duke's Environmental Law and Policy Clinic announcing a meeting on this topic.

Check this page for progress reports. If you have questions about the bridge, you can email John Kent.

Trout Lily

Walter Fowler

I wanted to write to you and give you an update on the Turkey Farm Road Bridge Project and to invite you to a public meeting on July 30. We will be meeting at the New Hope Improvement Association building (4102 Whitfield Road in Chapel Hill) at 7:00 p.m. on July 30. Please come and bring a friend of New Hope Creek with you.

I have invited the Orange County Board of Commissioners as well.  This meeting is your opportunity to get details from representatives of the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Division of Water Quality about the new bridge design and the construction process for the new bridge.  It is also a chance to show your support for the service that Bob Healy and John Kent have done on behalf of the Creek for the past year and a half.  They have both worked tirelessly to get this project in a place where it will not harm the Creek.  A good turnout at this meeting is a great way to thank them for their work, a job well done.

Dr. Greg Thorpe will be there to present information from NCDOT about the new bridge design.  Additionally, Brian Wrenn will be there to present information about how the N.C. Division of Water Quality reviews plans for bridges to protect water quality.  I will be giving a case overview and discussing the laws applicable to this project.  Your feedback, questions and comments will be welcomed. 

As you may know, the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic asked for an administrative law judge to overturn the permits issued for the original bridge design. In response to that filing (and a letter from the Orange County Board of Commissioners Chair, Barry Jacobs), NCDOT changed the bridge design to address the concerns regarding a proposed "bent," a post and lintel bridge support assemblage, for the center of the creek which to construct would require temporary rerouting of creek waters and drilling into the creek bottom.

While this new design addressed those concerns, we had remaining concerns related to the demolition/construction process, including its potential impact on a number of state-listed imperiled mussel species in this very high-quality section of New Hope Creek, and so we challenged the second design as well. Following the second challenge, the parties participated in settlement discussions. These discussions were assisted by a professional mediator, Mr. Thorns Craven. Following two weeks of negotiation, we agreed to end the permit challenges with a consent order.

As a result of that order, the parties have been working together to identify concerns related to the construction process itself.  We met at the site with nearly 20 people, most of them from NCDOT, to go over concerns.  We followed up that meeting with a set of comments to NCDOT.  These have been forwarded with a letter to the Orange County Board of Commissioners, who had supported this effort by passing a resolution at an April meeting.

There is still work to be done.  There is many a slip twixt the cup and the lip!  Nevertheless, the work that Bob, John and the entire NHCCAC have done has undoubtedly improved this project.  Please help finish that job by coming out and showing your support for the Creek at this meeting.

Ryke Longest
Director & Sr. Lecturing Fellow
Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
Duke University School of Law