Weather

Efforts in the works to save N.C. Highway 12

Posted July 3

Photo courtesy Donnie Bowers

— North Carolina has spent millions repairing N.C. Highway 12, and as each major storm passes, those funds are often washed away in more repairs.

A WRAL investigation found the state spent nearly $100 million in the past decade repairing the road.

With its location between the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, the highway, which is the only roadway connecting the thin stretch of islands that make up the Outer Banks, is highly vulnerable to damage from hurricanes and other storms.

The roadway was rebuilt after Hurricane Irene destroyed it in 2011. One year later, state Department of Transportation (DOT) crews were doing the same after Hurricane Sandy.

Whether Hurricane Arthur will be the latest storm to rip the highway apart is yet to be seen, but state officials have identified six traditional trouble spots along N.C. Highway 12 that stretch from Pea Island to Ocracoke.

In the middle of the 63 mile stretch, the road “S” curves, where the ocean nearly sits on top of the road.

State officials have tried building a sand wall to protect the road, but bidding issues earlier this year have delayed the project. The DOT re-bid the project last month using $20 million left over from Hurricane Sandy.

Unless Hurricane Arthur causes major problems, those funds will be used to re-nourish the beach after the storm passes.

State officials say the plan will provide several years of protection for the highway until a permanent solution can be determined.

Such a solution could take shape as early as this fall. The DOT is considering two plans to build a bridge that would replace the current N.C. Highway 12.

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  • normson7 Jul 3, 6:53 p.m.

    This storm might help decide where the new Oregon Inlet bridge should really be built. Seems kind of silly to put the bridge in the same place, so that the highway has to be rebuilt over and over. Maybe moving the bridge and highway to the sound side is a better idea?

  • Pensive01 Jul 3, 6:23 p.m.

    From what I've seen so far the current track places the eye passing to the west of Hatteras Island, likely as a category 2 storm. If that remains true, then it won't be just the beaches that will need fixing.