Temporary bridge to help return traffic to Hatteras Island

Posted September 2, 2011

— The state Department of Transportation plans to install a temporary bridge in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge by the end of September to link Hatteras Island to the mainland again, Gov. Beverly Perdue said Friday.

Hurricane Irene washed out N.C. Highway 12 in the wildlife refuge and several miles to the south, near Rodanthe, cutting off access to the island and stranding hundreds of residents. The storm surge caused other sections of the highway to buckle and chip away.

State transportation engineers consulted with dozens of contractors, scientists and other experts before settling on the idea of the temporary bridge to span the largest hole in N.C. 12. The DOT will use sand and asphalt to fill the hole near Rodanthe and repair other damage.

Perdue said she has secured $10 million in federal funds to pay for the repairs.

The 650-foot metal bridge will be shipped from the manufacturer in 35 truckloads and will be assembled on site. Although the bridge will be capable of handling normal car and truck traffic, officials said, the speed limit will be lowered.

Dare County officials said Thursday that residents of Buxton, Hatteras, and Frisco will be allowed to start returning to Hatteras Island on Sunday. As conditions improve in the island's other villages, their residents will be able to return, officials said.

Tourists won't be able to return to the island until at least Sept. 17, officials said.

The bridge and other temporary repairs will give the DOT time to develop a long-term plan for restoring and protecting N.C. 12, Perdue said.

Engineering experts have questioned the governor's commitment to rebuilding the highway on barrier islands that nature continues to reshape.

"Anybody (who) thinks they can put something on the front side of a mobile pile of sand is fooling themselves," said Stanley Riggs, a geology professor at East Carolina University. “Every time we have a storm now, you're going to see more and more breaches, more and more inlets moving through there."

"They must move (the highway) or lose it," said Orrin Pilkey, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Geology Earth & Ocean Sciences at Duke University.

Some people have suggested turning N.C. 12 into a toll road, so that people who travel to Hatteras Island would pay for its construction and maintenance. Others have called for scrapping the road altogether and ramping up a ferry system to serve all parts of the island.

Any long-term plan would have to meet guidelines set forth in an environmental impact study.

Locations where N.C. 12 is washed out:

View NC Highway 12 damage in a larger map


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  • thefiredog Sep 8, 2011

    How much of the cost of a high speed ferry would ten million dollars cover?

  • sytwsytb Sep 2, 2011

    A good engineer will find a way to overcome environmental hurdles. One example: Lynn Cove Viaduct.

  • vraptor Sep 2, 2011

    Wow. We are better journalists than the news rags. Thanks for the links...

    Maybe they should pay us????


  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 2, 2011

    From the Marine One story...

    "In Washington at the time Marine One took off, according to, there was no precipitation across the entire region, including Camp David.

    Light winds blew from the southeast at 10mph with mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the middle 70′s."


    A "bad weather call" was made yet Accuweather noted no bad weather in either the take-off or landing area? WTHeck???

    Methinks there's more to this story, but no one is talking.

  • Screw WrAl Sep 2, 2011

    Thank heaven Bev says the Feds will pick up the 10 million $ tab. Certainly would not want her inept cabinet to have to come up with that!

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 2, 2011

    vraptor -

    The story about the heli diverting is here...


    Must've been a harrowing ride for them to land at an alternate airport partway and board a motorcade to finish the rest of the trip to Camp David.

    It's also here on ABC...

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 2, 2011

    vraptor -

    Where'd you see Marine One had diverted?


  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 2, 2011

    vraptor - "So what happens if TS Lee turn into a hurricane and trashes N.O. again??? Is anyone even paying attention?"

    We are. From the models, it looks like Lee will head for Charlotte and our mountains after hitting the Gulf coast.

    It looks like Katrina will head north/northeast after passing Bermuda.

    But who knows for sure.

    It's Mother Nature after all.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 2, 2011

    vraptor - "The oil tankers offload at sea to oil pipe lines. Our oild refineries are mostly not in N.O."

    I know, about a mile out in the Gulf, but it still comes in through LA mostly and is sent to refineries from there.

    I use to work for a large oil company named Tenneco long ago. Don't know if it still exists or not.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Sep 2, 2011

    Houndie - "Just a side note, why does Beverly Purdue sound so whiny when she speaks? I don't think she is aware of the tone in her voice."

    It's cause she doesn't have a clue and is making it up as she goes along, hemming and hawing for time to make up her story.