DOT planning for long-term fix to NC 12

Posted October 19, 2011 3:06 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina transportation engineers met Tuesday with representatives from a dozen state and federal agencies to discuss possible options for permanently fixing N.C. Highway 12.

The highway is the lone overland link between Hatteras Island and mainland North Carolina, and Hurricane Irene tore two holes in the road in August. The state Department of Transportation rebuilt one section of the highway near Rodanthe and opened a temporary bridge last week to span the other area that had washed out, in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Gov. Beverly Perdue has asked the DOT to develop a long-term solution to N.C. 12, which has been repeatedly damaged by coastal storms in recent years.

Engineers plan to meet with coastal science experts to learn about the changes in conditions along N.C. 12 from Hurricane Irene, identify issues and constraints associated with future maintenance of the highway and obtain engineering advice on design parameters for long-term solutions.

They then will present options to area residents to get their feedback and forward a final plan to Perdue.

Options discussed Tuesday include beach renourishment, constructing permanent bridges at Pea Island and north of Rodanthe or moving the highway to a new location on the island.

The process to develop permanent solutions is part of the Bonner Bridge replacement project.

The first phase of that project involves replacing the 2.7-mile bridge over Oregon Inlet, which is currently in the design stage. The project also includes a coastal monitoring program that uses scientific data to determine what types of improvements are needed on N.C. 12 between Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Rodanthe and when that work will occur.

“N.C. 12 is the lifeline for the economy of the Outer Banks, and we want to ensure that it offers reliable service to residents and visitors for decades to come,” DOT Chief Operating Officer Jim Trogdon said in a statement.