The Federal Highway Administration has approved North Carolina’s plan to construct a new crossing to the Outer Banks. The project, estimated to cost $440 million, includes a new 4.7-mile, two-lane toll bridge across Currituck Sound and a 1.5-mile bridge across Maple Swamp on the mainland. First proposed in 1975, the new crossing is intended to shorten travel to the barrier islands’ northernmost communities by as much as 40 miles, and provide a third highway evacuation route ahead of major storms. The project also faces legal challenges on issues such as sea level rise and risks of environmental damage from new development.