HAVELOCK — The Southern Environmental Law Center filed a federal lawsuit Thursday that aims to stop construction of the Havelock Bypass, citing the negative effect it could have on longleaf pines and wildlife along the proposed route.

The bypass is expected to be a four-lane highway with a median that aims to improve traffic around Havelock. According to the N.C. Department of Transportation website, the project cost is $221.26 million.

Area leaders told the News-Times earlier this month they were looking forward to the construction and completion of the bypass that would help travel times to and from the Crystal Coast and bring more economic opportunities to the area.

The Federal Highway Administration announced its Record of Decision two weeks ago that gave approval for the bypass to move forward and work bids to be solicited. Construction was expected to start in the winter of 2017. A SELC press release says the documents were filed in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of N.C., on behalf of the Sierra Club, which is an environmental organization.

The lawsuit states the group is concerned the bypass is unnecessary and would harm the forest and wildlife that resides in the area.

“The planned Havelock Bypass would cut through rare, century-old longleaf-pine stands in eastern North Carolina’s Croatan National Forest,” states a press release from the SELC.

“The needless destruction of century-old longleaf pines for an unnecessary and costly road is not only wrong, it’s illegal,” Geoff Gisler, a senior attorney with SELC, said in the press release. “The Croatan was established decades ago to protect a landscape that is central to North Carolina’s history and provides irreplaceable habitat to the rare plants and animals that depend on the forest.”

According to media reports, the lawsuit could not be filed until the Record of Decision had been announced.

Contact Anna Harvey at 252-726-7081, ext. 229; email anna@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @annaccnt.

(9) comments

Core Sounder

Wow, Reading that The Save-The-Planet" types are looking for a way to increase the cost to build this bypass does not come as a surprise since this is their objective from the start. The State will need to hire a bunch of enviromentalist experts to get heir approval on this project and then it will be good to go.
What does surprise me though is the cost for this project. Wouldn't it be a lot cheaper to simply build a half dozen overpasses over the major intersections which would more or less get rid of all those dang stoplites? Or is it not political correct to even suggest that the gov leaders try and save a few dollars for the taxpayers?

sick and tired

Good luck with that. If they didn't have a problem dumping the hundreds of thousands of TONS of dirt, and who knows how much concrete into the sound and wetlands(which is protected and illegal) they are not going to care about the trees.

taxpayer

The clowns at SELC are pros at wasting public resources. They tie up every project with lengthy and expensive court proceedings, and cause needless additional "impact studies" to be conducted.
We desperately need to amend the law to force the loser to pay ALL COSTS related to these frivolous cases when they lose after years of appeals and delays.
Does anyone think that the Federal Highway Administration did not consider the impact of the new road before approving it?
Stop wasting our resources SELC!

Hambiscuit

Where were these folks when Carteret elites cut a four lane thru an ancient pristine oak forest, and civil war camp, so they could put up a fruit stand and call it " Bridges St. " extension?

taxpayer

The SELC has been wasting public resources for decades. We desperately need to change the law to force those who bring frivolous cases like this one to pay ALL COSTS associated with defending the public interest in court, as well as the delays in the projects.
Does anyone think the Federal Highway Administration failed to consider the impact of and alternatives to this plan?
We need to demand that local elected officials have a voice in routing of roadways, not a bunch of Chapel Hill lawyers.

vern123

There are 22 lights between Morehead/Newport and New Bern. 15 of them in Havelock alone. We need a by-pass. I spend more time sitting at lights in Havelock than I do on the road getting to and from work. The tree huggers would rather we trek it in leather moccasins to work over a wood pecker. There are hundreds of acres left for them to live. Build the By-Pass!

John

It is so funny to me how these so called Environmental groups wants to stop all the trees from being cut down to allow roads and power lines by filing lawsuits. They file nothing for all the wet lands and marshes being filled in by housing developments or condos! Makes one wonder where they are getting all there money for these lawsuits.

rooster

Forget any overpasses. For some reason the state engineers just don't get it. Like spending seventy-gozillion dollars for the new Gallants Channel bridge and associated roadwork which so many travelers were looking forward to and then planting stoplights at the Highway 101 intersection instead of an overpass and merging lanes. After all the $$ spent- the cost of a fly-over would be miniscule- You can chalk that one up to basic stupidity. I still remember the first time I came up on the work at the intersection and realized that they were making preps for stoplights. Had to scratch my head...Good grief people!

Core Sounder

The bypass will be built without question but by the time the save-the-world groups get thru adding cost to this project it would have probably been cheaper to build an elevated highway over all of the small cities or towns from Raleigh to Morehead. Of course if the primary goal is to not disturb wood peckers or water moccasins (sp) then the bypass could still be built I suppose but will drive up the total cost significantly. God, I hope that the Trump administration makes it so that our Nation is more concerned about our people than we are over some wild critter, bug or plant

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