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DOT, Park Service Readying Coast for Busy Travel Season

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N.C. COAST — At as the weather warms, Triangle travelers will be heating up the roads to the coast.Department of Transportationcrews are hustling to finish several projects that will impact travelers as they travel to and arrive at the coast.

Along the way, the DOT still has a lot of work to do on a bridge that will make the trip a lot easier for beach goers.

The new Highway 64 bridge from Manns Harbor to Manteo just gets its feet wet in the Croatan Sound. The $89 million, four-lane structure will replace the old two-laner to the north. Engineers say they are running behind schedule on the projected completion date of October 2001.

Once travelers are on Roanoke Island, there is good news for the outdoor theatre crowd.

TheNational Park Serviceplans to have $350,000 worth of improvements finished in time for this season's production of the"Lost Colony." The water-side theatre is getting a new stage that should be ready by mid-April.

On the Outer Banks, a DOT task force is kicking in a storm surge of projects designed to protect Highway 12. Secondary dunes are under construction all along the coastal highway.

The big dogleg, will stay in place for several years. The road, located north of Buxton, was constructed after Hurricane Dennis washed out the highway.

Work continues at the relocation site of theCape Hatteras Lighthouse. Near the base of the lighthouse, crews are busy constructing access roads, parking lots and restrooms at a cost of $1.3 million.

The National Park Service plans to open the lighthouse to the public Memorial Day weekend.