By Sam Walker on December 5, 2012State highway crews are making steady progress on the last N.C. 12 trouble spot.
With the weather finally cooperating, workers are installing huge protective sandbags at the S-Curves just north of Rodanthe, an area pummeled by Hurricane Sandy’s high surf at the end of October.
A northern stretch of N.C. 12 between Oregon Inlet and bridge over the new Pea Island inlet opened to all traffic during the weekend. But it still takes a four-wheel-drive to get all the way to Rodanthe.
Plans were to have N.C. 12 reopened by Thanksgiving. But over a month of high surf and overwash since Hurricane Sandy raked the Outer Banks in October, coupled with back-to-back nor’easters, pushed the work back.
State Department of Transportation officials expect the stretch of road from the new bridge to Rodanthe to reopen to all traffic by Christmas Day.
The Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge has open between Oregon Inlet and the temporary bridge but is closed from the temporary bridge south to the Rodanthe border.
Fifteen-foot-long sandbags are being installed between the new roadbed and the beach along a .4 mile stretch, then wrapped in filter fabric for stabilization.NCDOT Engineers say 1,800 sandbags will be placed north of Mirlo Beach, followed by building of a dune line on top of them.
More benign weather over the last 10 days has allowed the four-wheel-drive-only bypass around the washed out road to stay open.
Private vehicles that can use the road are limited to one ton in weight and must have a high ground clearance. Towing trailers is not allowed.
The limits are being enforced because so many vehicles were digging deep ruts and getting stuck on the sand road.
Drivers are reminded to lower tire pressures before driving in sand and expect a rough ride.
All other vehicles must use ferries to reach Hatteras Island, either on the emergency route between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe, or via the vessels running from the mainland and Ocracoke and then across Hatteras Inlet.
N.C. 12 from Rodanthe south to Hatteras village has been open since shortly after the hurricane.