RALEIGH -- Environmentalists are not backing away from a lawsuit over replacing the only bridge to much of North Carolina's Outer Banks, continuing a court fight despite pressure from politicians.

Lawyers for the Southern Environmental Law Center told a federal appeals court that North Carolina's plans to replace the Bonner Bridge do not explain how to keep open the road through a wildlife refuge frequently cut off by storms and migrating sand.

The appeal was filed as North Carolina's top two state lawmakers on Tuesday again blasted the group as risking the lives and livelihoods of Hatteras Island residents now without road access.

The 50-year-old bridge was closed suddenly last week after inspections discovered that sand washed away from support columns had made the span too dangerous for traffic.

Meanwhile about 200 residents of Hatteras Island gathered Tuesday night in an auditorium at the Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies.

According to Warren Judge, The Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman, the County Manager gave a presentation that included spelling out priorites for the ferry service presently operating, county services available, and emergency phone numbers being provided.

Judge said there was a question and answer period for residents and many voiced frustration over the continuation of the lawsuit that is blocking a new Bonner Bridge construction.

Judge told that many residents are hurting because of the bridge closure. Some are not getting paychecks. Some businesses have laid off workers. Many are worried about just paying bills.

Judge said there was no immediate plan to meet with residents again but there might be another meeting if their is a prolonged closure of the bridge.

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