ECU Researchers To Assess Currituck Bridge Project
By Erica Plouffe Lazure
Engineers, economists and geographers from East Carolina University received $927,000 in contracts from the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the North Carolina Turnpike Authority to assist in the supporting studies in the assessment of a new bridge across the Currituck Sound.
ECU researchers recently began work on traffic, natural resource and socio-economic studies of the proposed seven-mile Mid-Currituck Bridge that would connect the Currituck County mainland with the Currituck County Outer Banks.
ECU Project Director Ernest Marshburn said he and his colleagues are pleased to provide technical assistance to state transportation officials and other decision-makers.
“ECU’s role is to be supportive as a state agency and to conduct research related to the project’s environmental impact statement,” said Marshburn, who is the director of strategic initiatives in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies at ECU.
The $927,000 contract is the first of a three-year, $1.7 million effort to assist in the evaluation of the environmental and economic impacts of the proposed bridge. As part of the federal surface transportation bill passed in 2005, Congress earmarked funding for the study through NCDOT’s federal highway apportionment.
Along with Marshburn and project manager/professor of engineering Evelyn Brown, faculty members and students from ECU’s departments of engineering and geography, and the College of Business are conducting the studies.
Paul Kauffmann, chair of the engineering department, is working on the traffic study with College of Technology and Computer Science faculty members Brown, B.J. Kim, Erol Ozan and Richard Monroe. Amy Blizzard, professor of geography, is conducting a natural resource impact study with faculty members Dan Marcucci, Karen Mulcachy and ECU student Katerine Ball.
Jim Kleckley, professor of business, is conducting an economic impact assessment with retired business faculty member Louis “Buddy” Zincone and ECU student Chris Young.