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State Plans To Rebuild Highway 12 After Being Hit By Isabel

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Parts of Highway 12, which runs from Ocracoke north to Corolla, took a serious hit from Isabel. A section leading to Hatteras Village does not even exist anymore. The state will begin rebuilding the road in less than a week, but many question whether it is worth it.

Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett has announced a cooperative action plan to repair N.C. Highway 12.

"After a careful consultation with state and federal resource agencies, we have initiated a cooperative action plan to repair N.C. 12 from Frisco to Hatteras," said Tippett. "We will work closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and all other agencies involved to ensure that the highway is repaired in an expedient, yet environmentally sound manner. We plan to complete all work by the end of October, at which time traffic will flow once again."

However, Duke geologist Orrin Pilkey said Mother Nature is working on its own plan.

"Nothing is permanent on a barrier island," he said.

Pilkey said the Outer Banks are migrating and naturally changing and people are getting in the way.

"We're just pushing that sand back on Highway 12 where it is at the same elevation," he said.

As part of the action plan, the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is already working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and their supporting agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to initiate the necessary environmental permits to fill the 1,700-foot wide inlet with sand.

Currently, the Corps has mobilized a dredge from Norfolk to be used in the work and has redirected about 30 personnel from the Wilmington area for the effort. In addition to the Corps, NCDOT will work with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service which oversees the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Following closure of the inlet, NCDOT will rebuild this section of highway.

After working around the clock this weekend, NCDOT has cleared debris from most primary and secondary roads affected by Hurricane Isabel throughout northeastern North Carolina.

Throughout the recovery, NCDOT deployed more than 2,000 employees and 400 pieces of equipment, including bulldozers, front-end loaders, earth movers, motor graders and dump trucks. Crews from as far west as Greensboro assisted in the effort. The department has been working -- and will continue to work -- alongside power companies to remove the debris necessary to restore power throughout affected areas.

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