Road work north of Rodanthe to take three weeks

By on October 31, 2012

N.C. 12 at Mirlo Beach. (NCDOT)

Hurricane Sandy flattened dunes in Kitty Hawk and Hatteras Island, leaving a big job of removing water, debris and sand.

N.C. 12 is open through Hatteras Island’s southern villages, but clearing and repairing the road from Rodanthe to the Bonner Bridge will take until Thanksgiving, Dare County Emergency Management said Wednesday.

Two lanes of a flooded section of U.S. 158 in Kitty Hawk were also reopened Wednesday morning, and nine pumps are working to remove water in the area between the highway and the beach, the N.C. Department of Transportation said.

The area has historically been a trouble spot where storm surf breaks through dunes and over N.C. 12, sending water rushing two blocks to the bypass. Drainage ditches in the area routinely overflow during heavy rain.

N.C. 12 at Kitty Hawk Road is a stretch where houses were lost or removed several years ago, leaving only a small dune line for protection.

“The highway is littered with pieces of homes, decks and driveways,” the department of transportation said in a statement. “Crews discovered an area where pavement and dunes have been lost on N.C. 12 north of Kitty Hawk Road in Kitty Hawk.”

Beach combing was popular after the storm. (Rob Morris)

Roadways east of U.S. 158 around milepost 4.5 are still closed while crews remove debris, Dare County Emergency Management said.

Meanwhile, NCDOT says it needs to clear sand 3 to 4 feet deep in places along N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island after Hurricane Sandy flattened or severely damaged about 3 miles of dunes.

Inspectors determined that the Bonner Bridge was safe for emergency vehicles and that there appeared to be no loss of sand around pilings on the bottom of Oregon Inlet. Sonar will be used for a second look.

Repairs will be needed on tension cables in the bridge deck on several spans, the highway department said, but that will probably be done before work on N.C. 12 to Rodanthe is finished.

NCDOT crews have found pavement damage on the south side of the the new bridge at the inlet cut by Hurricane Irene.

At Mirlo Beach north of Rodanthe, another persistent a trouble spot, the ocean broke through in the same spot that required extensive repairs after Hurricane Irene last August.

“There is a significant loss of dunes and pavement damage,” the highway department said.

Emergency ferries are running between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point. The ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke has also started running again on a limited schedule.

Ferries between Swan Quarter and Ocracoke are resuming their normal two-a-day runs, but visitors are not yet allowed to use them. Reservations for the weekend are full.

The beach south of the Outer Banks Pier. (Russ Lay)

Sandy’s 10- to 15-foot waves sent surf all the way to the dunes in Nags Head, but on Wednesday the beach, which was widened last year, appeared to have held up reasonably well.

Town Manager Cliff Ogburn said the width probably was not what it was before the storm, but sand fencing indicated 2 to 3 feet more elevation along the dunes in South Nags Head.

The contractor for the $36 million nourishment project, Coastal Science and Engineering, was already scheduled to do another assessment of sand loss. FEMA can reimburse the town to replace sand loss after a named storm.

Without the extra beach, houses would have been in the water, Ogburn said.

“We’re pleased,” he said. “It did what it was supposed to do.”

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