Feds approve Outer Banks bridge

Posted December 16, 2016 11:10 a.m. EST

Damage to N.C. Highway 12 between Pea Island and Rodanthe, as seen on Oct. 30, 2012.

— Federal transportation officials have given the final go-ahead for a bridge at the Outer Banks to replace flood-prone N.C. Highway 12, Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday.

The Federal Highway Administration signed off Thursday on a proposed 2.4-mile bridge stretching over Pamlico Sound between the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Rodanthe on Hatteras Island. McCrory said the state Department of Transportation can now award a contract for design and construction.

DOT is expected to open bids in about a week.

"I’m pleased that we are now able to move forward with construction of this critical highway connection that will provide a long-term solution for the residents and visitors of the Outer Banks," McCrory said in a statement. "This new bridge will eliminate travel disruptions caused by beach erosion and storm breaches that have resulted in access issues at one of the most vulnerable sections of N.C. 12 for years."

The "jug handle" design, which was the preferred design officials have worked on for months, will minimize impacts to the wildlife Refuge, the ocean shoreline and Rodanthe while maintaining safe and reliable access for area residents and visitors, he said.

Once construction is complete, the portion of N.C. 12 in the wildlife refuge would be removed and the land returned to the refuge. In Rodanthe, the roadway will remain to provide access to private properties.

Crews started work in March on a replacement for the Bonner Bridge linking Hatteras Island to the mainland over Oregon Inlet.