Hurricane Irene Aftermath
September 8, 2011 Facebook TwitterMore...

Progress on repairing Highway 12 is going blazing fast


It’s a fast-paced scene as Barnhill Contracting moves at breakneck speed to repair the highway north of Rodanthe.

In three days, crews made incredible progress on bridging the gap in Highway 12 at Mirlo Beach and are now trucking much of the sand five miles north to the southernmost breach on Pea Island.

In addition to the Mirlo Inlet, there are three breaches and one inlet on Pea Island.  The “New New Inlet” is near the old ranger station.  There is one breach north of that and two to the south.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation intends to use a temporary bridge to take travelers over New New Inlet, while permanent repairs for the road are being planned and implemented.

Tuesday night, operations took a break to wait for low tide with hopes of filling the area in north Rodanthe where the ocean washes over about 12 hours a day.

At 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, crews transported enough sand to the area and connected the crude sand road with the broken sections of Highway 12 to the other side of Mirlo Inlet, which was created by Hurricane Irene on August 27.

That section just north of the inlet is in terrible condition.  The road was buckled, broken, and several sections had sunk waist deep.  The gaps were filled with sand, then covered with wooden walk mats that keep the heavy equipment from sinking or getting stuck. 

When the single-lane road was secure enough, many dump trucks continued five miles north and started filling in the southernmost cut in the road on Pea Island.  The highway for almost five miles north of  the torn-up section near Mirlo Beach was undamaged by the hurricane.

Barnhill ferried over more 2-ton dump trucks to Hatteras Island on Wednesday to hasten the process of moving sand from Kinnakeet Shores in Avon to Rodanthe and Pea Island.  About 33 dump trucks are now working on the rebuilding project.

Most of the dump trucks are navigating the narrow single lane path over the now plugged Mirlo Inlet but some sand continues to be dumped at the beginning of the road which is now about four lanes wide.  The road has a 100-foot right-of-way.

Bulldozers are in constant motion moving sand in all locations, especially the section of highway nearest the ocean as the high surf, kicked up by Hurricane Katia, works to undermine the new road. At high tide, water pours in through two gaps in the sandbags.

Waff Contracting of Edenton, N. C., will begin work to repair the damaged and missing sandbags in this area shortly to stabilize the sand road, according to Waff spokesman Pat Wimple.

Waff is also working on Pea Island to support the approach to the temporary bridge on both sides by installing steel sheet pilings.
Yesterday at high tide, travel to the northern side of Mirlo Inlet was suspended because the ocean was coming over the narrow passage way.  Full dump trucks lined up along a side road and waited for the tide to back off.

Concerns for higher ocean swells grow for today and early Friday as Hurricane Katia, which is well east of the area, kicks up heavy surf that is exacerbated by an approaching full moon.

The bigger New New Inlet continues to grow daily.  The high surf from Hurricane Katia is expected to increase the rate of deterioration as the storm scoots north.

Upon completion of the sand road, Barnhill will back fill the road to the repaired sandbags, remove the walk mats, and prepare the road for asphalt.

(The photos in the slide show were taken at the Mirlo Beach subdivision, where one house has collapsed and more are sitting in the surf and in danger of falling down. Other photos show the Mirlo Inlet just north of the houses and the torn up highway on the north side of the inlet.)


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