By Rob Morris on November 17, 2012
Damaged by Hurricane Sandy last month and a nor’easter the following week, the only land route to Hatteras Island was expected to be reopened by the holiday.
“Unfortunately NCDOT crews have been at the mercy of the weather and we are not where we want to be in terms of reopening N.C. 12,” NCDOT Division Engineer Jerry Jennings said in a statement.
Access by way of an emergency four-wheel drove route between the Bonner Bridge and Rodanthe has been unpredictable, with frequent closings at high tide.
The main problem is at Mirlo Beach, where Sandy’s waves flattened the dune line. Photos on the Island Free Press website show the cracked and sinking section of N.C. 12 and the right-of-way in the ocean.
“These closures often occur with very little advanced notice due to rapidly changing weather and surf conditions,” the statement said. “When a closure happens, NCDOT must wait for conditions to improve before reopening the route to ensure motorists safety.
Conditions indicate that the emergency route will be open only at low tides.
Weather patterns include an offshore storm that will produce high surf and strong winds from the north and northeast into next week. A coastal flood advisory is in effect until 7 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service Office in Morehead City said.
At least one computer model suggests the possibility of another nor’easter developing Wednesday.
The temporary route is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., but motorists will be escorted before dawn and after dusk.
Emergency ferries are operating between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point. N.C. 12 south of Rodanthe opened shortly after Sandy.
The NCDOT Ferry Division has also added a pair of runs each day through the Monday after Thanksgiving on the toll ferry between Swan Quarter and Ocracoke.
When the route is open, there is one lane in each direction except at the temporary bridge on Pea Island and the Bonner Bridge. Traffic signals have been set up at both spans to allow one-lane crossings in alternating directions.
The highway department recommends calling 511 for the latest information or following NCDOT on Twitter at www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter.