Bridges could be long-term solution for N.C. 12

By on October 19, 2011

The new bridge at Pea Island. (NCDOT)

Beach nourishment, bridges or relocating parts of the highway are among the options being discussed as long-term solutions to N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island.

State and federal officials met this week to begin talking about the troublesome road, which was breached in several places during Hurricane Irene.

The only highway on Hatteras Island reopened last week after a temporary bridge was built over a 200-foot-wide inlet in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge.

That breach and a chronic trouble spot at Mirlo Beach just north of Rodanthe are the two areas state and federal officials will address in their discussions.

“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,” the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Chief Operating Officer Jim Trogdon said in statement.

“That is why we are working closely with our counterparts to do what Gov. Bev Perdue requested – create a design plan to permanently address the area’s long-range needs.”

NCDOT staff members met with representatives from 12 state and federal agencies Tuesday.

The breaches at Pea Island and Mirlo Beach could be repaired with beach nourishment, with a bridge in the existing easement or by relocating the road and bridges.

Next, NCDOT will hold a panel discussion with coastal science and engineering experts to learn more about changes caused by the hurricane and seek design advice for long-term fixes at the two sites.

NCDOT will also schedule public meetings to present options to citizens and answer questions.

The goal, NCDOT said in a statement, is “presenting a realistic, fundable, buildable design plan” to Gov. Beverly Perdue.

State and federal officials agreed last year to build a new 2.7-mile span parallel to the aging Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet and deal with problems along N.C. 12 separately.

The plan has been criticized by environmental groups, who have sued to stop it, and Hurricane Irene has provided new urgency to long-term solutions.

Envrionmentalists would prefer a 17-mile bridge that bypasses the refuge altogether.


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Jimmy Woodson

October 25, 2011 7:01 am

Thanks Hankavon.


October 24, 2011 12:39 pm

Don’t know the numbers off the top of my head but do know that Dare County is a “doner county” in that it sends more to Raliegh than it gets back. As for amount sent, Dare is second only to Charlotte.

Jimmy Woodson

October 23, 2011 8:14 pm

Mr. Marlin,

How much does go into the state coffers/ what is the economic value from/of HI business?

That is the fundamental basis on which any decision must be made.

Richard Marlin

October 23, 2011 3:36 pm

I do not wish to get into a pissing match here but would like to bring up three points. First, who do you think will pay for the fiber optic and power lines down that long bridge ? Second, how about a accident out there in the middle somewhere ? How do you think our emergency responders are going to handle that ? and Third, $20.00 !!! toll ? For some of the folks that live here that would be impossible. Please check how much tax dollars come from this shrinking sand spit go into the state coffer before you spout about the island going away.

Jimmy Woodson

October 22, 2011 7:30 am

Many great ideas here. But one error. There IS money, just not in current government coffers. perhaps a combination of Robbie Vs bridges and ferries with the toll idea to extract the value of that awesome piece of real estate. People will pay for what they value. Our visitors drive $40000 vehicles with thousands of dollars worth of stuff strapped to it and pay thousands for cottages and food. Would $20 each way cause them to got to…..VA Beach, Myrtle Beach? What would the toll have to be given a certain plan? How long would that combo of infrastructure likely last and thus need repair or replacement?

This is a business problem that may not have a positive solution for those on Hatteras Island. Creativity is needed. Does our country have one damn ounce left? I see some hope in the replies I have read here.


October 21, 2011 9:12 pm

Thanks for proving my point Ekim. So what your saying is to let the sea take it away because it would cost money to battle it. Gotcha. Bye Bye southern beaches can’t afford you no more.


October 21, 2011 8:51 pm

Robbi, the Florida Keys rest on coral and rock. They don’t shift around, so the bridges work very well.


October 21, 2011 9:15 am

There’s no $$$$ to do eather or,There’s nothing we can do about shifting sand,NOTHING! Dont give a rats rip about the Texas VFD. GOOOOOOO TEA PARTY!


October 21, 2011 8:06 am

From reading I see the new bridge over OI is to last 100 years. The question becomes where will NC 12 be by then ? The state needs to compare the bridge cost and NC 12 maintance for the next 100 years to the cost of the long bridge .

The long bridge is the sloution .

I like the saying “a bridge to no where.”

Robbi V

October 20, 2011 8:45 pm

I see Pea Island road as the same sort of ocean/gulf/roadway as the Florida Keys and have long thought of a solution to the washout problems would be a series of short bridges that allow the water to pass under the roadway.


October 20, 2011 5:30 pm

I’m hearing the standard objections to spending gub’ment money on a project like this. Where are the “free market” arguements ? How about a privately funded “toll bridge” ? How about the towns raising money on their own ? Are abandonment and relocation options? They are in the free market. I’m sure there are other “market based” alternatives. Lets hear them.


October 20, 2011 4:20 pm

Could a ferry system handle the summertime traffic? I doubt it. The tea party types that we speak of also cut funding to the Texas VFD’s and a large swatch of the state is a constant fire hazzard. I don’t think you can allow folks who have a cut at all cost mind set to have much say in the matter. The general public understands the need for a bridge. As far as the threat from storms, we have always had tough storms and that sliver of land still exists and the cost of keeping it there obviously didn’t trump saving money and letting the sea take it. away.


October 20, 2011 10:34 am


Have you seen any figures on what it has cost NCDOT to keep HWY 12 open from North Pea Island to Rodanthe since, say, Isabel?

There seems to be some confusion on how much $$ that is and it would be nice to know when deciding how to address the Bonner Bridge situation.



October 20, 2011 7:37 am

BHIOBX: you bring up a lot of great points, but the same tea party types will balk just as hard at the hundreds of millions it’ll wind up costing to build two ferry stations plus acquiring new ferries, even if it is ultimately the more economical solution.

Stewie Stewington

October 19, 2011 9:15 pm

This is exactly the sort of thing that the federal government should not be funding with even a single federal nickel.


October 19, 2011 8:32 pm

“realistic, fundable, buildable design plan” and “bridge” do not belong in the same sentence in this case.

New/different ferries with better/more accessible ferry docks. This is seemingly the most logical solution and one better suited for accessing a moving strip of sand over the long term. Plus its cheaper, more dynamic, with a much shorter execution time.

I travel that road (read the Pea Island gauntlet) sometimes 5x a week, and have done so for many years witnessing the changes over time. But lets face facts, Pea Island is on borrowed time. Any rational and thinking person who sees a trashline from soundside flooding on the backs of oceanside sand dunes after a Cat 1 storm should be worried about the longevity of HI.

And to think that in this time of tea party politics, do you really think a 400 million-1.3 billion dollar bridge will be built for 4000 residents who live on a shifting and shrinking sandbar? Really? Personally speaking I would rather give that money to our schools and let the ferries do the work. This is how I would rather see my tax dollars spent instead of NC’s own “bridge to nowhere” (which could be literal given the right storm).

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