N.C. 12 expected to be fully open by Christmas

By on December 5, 2012

NCDOT photo.

State 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.

Sandbag installation at the “s-curves” (NCDOT).

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.

Bookmark and Share


Salvo Duck Hunter

December 9, 2012 2:50 pm

I  heard Allen’s comments on the NPR Chapel Hill station also. I agree with Sailor. 

I think commissioner Burrus has his heart in the right place but his logic is askew.  The commissioner is rightfully proud of his heritage and history of the grocery store in Hatteras Village  but that has little relevance to the problem at hand. His remarks about Stan Riggs were over the top, ridiculous and inflammatory. Alan owns and operates  a grocery store for gods sake.

It is common knowledge that Isabel Inlet (Frisco south beach) Buxton Beach north of the groins, Mirlo Beach (s Curves), New New Inlet and Pea Island (south of bridge) are all spots that are going to continue to be a serious access problems.  They  might not be the only areas. The beaches of  Hatteras Island have never been as narrow and in peril as they are right now. There is no indictation that conditions are going to improve. It is obvious that sand fencing, sand bagging, beach nourishment, groins, jetties, bridges and causeways close to the ocean beach  are an  expensive  short term bandaid at best.  The old status quo of maintaing HI access is not relevant anymore, conditions  have changed, believing that they haven’t is dangerous.

Avon resident

December 8, 2012 8:24 pm

To Mike: A 1 ton truck is not what it weighs, but what it is rated to haul. There actually talking about a dually. any truck bigger than that is not permitted to pass through.


December 8, 2012 4:02 pm

@OBX Resident: Interesting that although we differ on many things, you and I both agree that the bridge should be built from Stumpy Point.

So is there any possibility of that or are we going to keep on with the “Bonner Bridge to Nowhere” over a closed inlet?

Stumpy Pt bridge would approach the island from the west so could be easily shortened as the islands migrate (for whatever reason) as they have been for years, just check out the tree stumps in the surf at Mirlo for evidence of the recent migration.


December 8, 2012 3:59 pm

@OBX Resident: Wow- The Daily Mail- now that is not where I would expect to see peer reviewed scientific research! Not a Murdoch paper, but basically a tabloid, fact checking is not their strength.

But if you want to check out a link, try this one where they discuss measured sea level rise. These are the facts, not some “Lord Monckton” non-scientist mutterings:

The oceans are rising 60 per cent faster than the IPCC’s latest best estimates, according to the new research. The researchers compared those estimates to satellite data of observed sea-level rise. ” Satellites have a much better coverage of the globe than tide gauges and are able to measure much more accurately by using radar waves and their reflection from the sea surface,” explains Anny Cazenave from LEGOS. While the IPCC projected sea-level rise to be at a rate of 2 mm per year, satellite data recorded a rate of 3.2 mm per year.


Hard to see why there is still so much denial of global warming, but the sea level rise is pretty easy to measure, so just adjust to the new reality or keep telling yourself that the sea level is not rising as NC12 washes away.

Maybe you haven’t seen Don Bowers video, pretty sure it shows some major water across the road, but hey, that never showed up on Fox News so maybe it isn’t a real video!


OBX Resident

December 7, 2012 5:32 pm

@ Sailor: Global warming is slowing. Here is the counter to Prof. Riggs. Go ahead and disagree with the science collected from 3,000 measuring points around the globe. Here is the quote from the article:

“UK Daily Mail: ‘Global warming stopped 16 years ago’ according to UK Met Office ‘quietly released’ report — ‘Pause’ in warming lasted about same time as when temps rose, 1980 to 1996′ — ‘The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land & sea, was issued quietly on internet, without any media fanfare, & , until today, it has not been reported. This stands in sharp contrast to release of previous figures 6 months ago, which went only to end of 2010 – a very warm year…From beginning of 1997 until August 2012 there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temps.’

Here is the link: http://www.climatedepot.com/a/18726/Fmr-Thatcher-advisor-Lord-Monckton-evicted-from-UN-climate-summit-after-challenging-global-warming–Escorted-from-the-hall-and-security-officers-stripped-him-of-his-UN-credentials

I agree with scientific data not scientist with agendas.

Though, Mr. Riggs koolaid taste so good, and he is such a nice salesman making money with his rhetoric. It makes it difficult to question him. He says what you want to hear.


December 7, 2012 4:54 pm

Can’t wait to see the price tag on this fix.


December 7, 2012 2:33 pm

The only refreshing thing that I can see moving forward, is that the Republicans are now in power in NC. Hopefully that will mean the bridge project will finally begin and the lefties will be quieted. What everyone fails to remember: if the island does not have easy access, the tourists will not come- If that happens, everyone will starve. That isn’t what we want.


December 7, 2012 12:36 pm

Professor Riggs has done detailed studies of the island’s geography and yes, the oceans are rising, so it is time for the Hatteras Island residents to plan for their future with that in mind.

Pushing sand around with bulldozers is futile when the ocean can wash it away with a single NE blow. Not sure why the NC12 planning process is so slow, but avoiding the reality of climate change and ocean level rise means that viable long term solutions are ignored while millions of dollars are spent patching a road that is doomed to continual overwash.

Replacing the Bonner Bridge to nowhere is a waste of money, NC officials should try to repurpose that money for a long, low bridge from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe, build it just 23 feet above sea level and skip the entire Pea Island washover zone.

Lots of know-nothings when it comes to climate change, the Republican Party specializes in that, not even able to say that the earth is older than 6,000 years!

OBX Resident

December 7, 2012 11:34 am

@ OBX Resident Too: Not playing heresay. Fact check me and don’t ask the elected leaders. Ask NCDOT, and the contractors doing the repairs.

@Sailor: The mats would not be a permanent solution. They would be temp. to allow for the reconstruction of the roadway. They could be used for several months. The mats would be a lot less than running the ferries, and provide a quick solution.

About the location of the roadway, FWS will not even let them move slightly west to the area where the four wheel drive roadway is. This alignment is not affected by the homes at Mirlo Beach. Putting the roadway back where it was is a waste of time. There are going to be articles in the Voice this winter about the road being closed and damaged. Who cares about the Alligator roadway, we are talking about HWY 12.

Build the bridge from Stumpy Point and be done with it.

Can't grasp it

December 7, 2012 8:05 am

The first tenant of most any job is “to do no harm”. Being an elected leader, Allen Burrus stepped all over that principle in his “performance” on statewide radio on Thursdays State of Things episode on WUNC. To allege or imply that Stan Riggs, the preeminent authority on barrier island geology, is simply a hack espousing hysteria to try and sell books was very harmful to Dare County in front of a statewide audience. You sounded like a fool and I cringed every time I heard you piping in on the discussion. It’s called science. And the geologic condition of Hatteras Island is reality. And unless you want to be alone out there on an island with no access, you should try to not piss off the good citizens of NC and the powers that be at the Federal level who will be paying for a good chunk of this bill. We as Dare County citizens are asking for a lot. Lets try to make a good impression. The last thing we need is our elected official casting dispersions (with an attitude) on highly respected experts.


December 7, 2012 7:24 am

ate lunch on Ocracoke yesterday on the way south. those people who are still open are struggling. my waitress made $11 the day before.

Dare waterman

December 7, 2012 7:01 am

To “OBX Resident”
If FWS is a problem with the hwy 12 relocation, how do you expect they will handle all the traffic thru Alligator River Refuge???

Mike Bobrik

December 6, 2012 9:42 pm

Thanks OBX resident. Why not Army Corps of Engineers type temporary roadways? It is only about a mile.
I’ll be staying in Frisco for New Years – fingers crossed. To Jimmy: Rodanthe and south are the real Outer Banks.


December 6, 2012 6:45 am

Don’t forget the folks on Ocracoke, this affects them too.

As far as putting the roadway at s turns back where it was, if and when it goes again, we will have FWS to blame for it, and no one else. A three year old could figure that one out.


December 5, 2012 8:49 pm

$100 million for the replacement New Inlet bridge? That was reported in the Island Free Press.

Based on that rate, the 2.5 mile bridge around S-curves will cost about $250 million. And yes, people are always claiming that Dare County is a “donor County” to the rest of North Carolina, but what percentage of that money is from Hatteras Island? Maybe 10% of the $40 million at best, that will not even pay for maintenance of NC12 on Hatteras Island, and not come close to paying the multi millions for a bunch of bridges.

So if a decision is made based on the finances, Hatteras Island will soon be served only by ferries.


December 5, 2012 8:23 pm

The geo mats would be fine for a week or two, but how are they anything but a temporary solution?

Bridge from Stumpy Point to Rodanthe is the only viable long term option, but with the “austerity bomb” millionaires running this country off the “fiscal cliff” there is no money for infrastructure improvements, just endless money to bomb Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc while keeping tax cuts for millionaires at all costs.

No point in blaming FWS for sea level rise, but it would help if the 47% (Mitt voters) could finally accept scientific facts and work to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels instead of just pumping sand in circles- moving the road west would run into those private homes that are in that area- so it is not just the FWS affecting the road route.


December 5, 2012 3:25 pm

Well this just sucks ass. I guess instead of renting on big H will be renting in Nags or Kitty from now on. I’m not going thru the hassles anymore

obx resident too

December 5, 2012 1:22 pm

Obx resident – where are your facts to back up your statements about the fws? Playing the blame game on hearsay just doesn’t accomplish anything.

OBX Resident

December 5, 2012 10:46 am

This article fails to mention the details. The repairs to the roadway where delayed because of the blows that we had, but the repairs were also delayed because FWS and NCDOT had not agreed on the location of the roadway. The repairs could have commenced sooner. The location was only determined during a meeting last week. FWS is not allowing the road to move west, they are requiring the reconstruction in the same right-of-way as the old road that now sits on the beach. Thus the sand bags are going in at the high tide line and snuggled up to them will be the road. This road is not going to make it through the winter. Also, do not hold your breath waiting for the beach nourishment. The government cannot even dredge Oregon Inlet because of regulations and money and now like Moses the sea of regulations is going to part and beach nourishment is going to occur? Please. This is a waste. Build the bridge from Stumpy Point, it will be less than continually wasting money.

Then, there are the ferries (fuel, upkeep, dredging, staff, etc). They are expensive to operate. There is only about .75 miles of roadway on NC 12 that is not repaired. There are military grade geo mats that can be put down in a day. Read http://www.almc.army.mil/alog/issues/JanFeb02/MS698.htm
This would cost a lot less money than operating the ferries and it would allow greater access. Plus they are reusable.

Our local, state, and federal leaders are about the most dysfunctional bunch. Dealing with the same problems with the same rhetoric and same solutions. Lets hope the Mayans are right. It is the only thing that will save us from these elected officials.


December 5, 2012 6:28 am

Another temporary road… Maybe it will wash away this winter..
The long-term plan is for a elevated roadway, 2.5 miles extending into the Pamlico and exiting at Rodanthe creek. It would be much safer for our community and children if the bridge exits at Salvo Day Use Area. As well as the ferry docks.


December 5, 2012 1:12 am

What sort of 4 wheel drive vehicle weighs 2000 pounds or less? A Smart car weighs in at around 1600 pounds.

Join the discussion:

You must login to post a comment.

Not registered? Create an account.