nourishment has been essentially taken off the table as a permanent fix
at two temporary repairs on the northern end of Highway 12 on Hatteras
Island. But a dramatically different alternative that materialized out
of the blue is now being considered.
nourishment off the table for long-term Highway 12 fix
At a Dec. 15 meeting of a
team of state and federal agency representatives, the North Carolina
Department of Transportation decided to narrow the number of viable
alternatives for long-term solutions for the N.C. 12 breaches on Pea
Island and in Rodanthe that were torn open by Hurricane Irene in August.
The group, called the merger team, agreed that widening the shoreline
at the weakened areas was impractical.
not seen as the more attractive of the alternatives, no,” Victor
Barbour, NCDOT technical services administrator said in an interview.
was included in two of four options for each location that were
presented at public meetings in Manteo and Rodanthe earlier this month.
Another meeting is scheduled to be held Jan. 5 on Ocracoke Island.
Public comment will be accepted through Jan. 20.
the estimated price tag was not available, Barbour said that beach
nourishment at either of the areas, which have high erosion rates,
would cost “millions and millions of dollars” and involve a “continual
battle with Mother Nature.”
would also be complicated by the difficulty in finding compatible
offshore sand sources, he said. And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and the National Park Service, the agencies that manage the beaches in
Pea Island and Rodanthe, respectively, have policies against beach
"There are laws and regulations associated with
some of the options that we are not likely to be able to meet," said
NCDOT Chief Operating Officer Jim Trogdon in a prepared statement. "By
focusing our efforts on the most realistic options, we can more
efficiently develop long-term fixes for N.C. 12 that will provide a
reliable way for people to get to jobs and education."
Rodanthe, where the highway was breached at Mirlo Beach on the north
end, the remaining options for a long-term fix include building a
bridge within the easement and building a bridge that would extend into
the Pamlico Sound.
At the Pea Island breach, the general
consensus reached by the merger team was to build a new road or bridge
west of where Highway 12 is currently located, or to allow NCDOT to
build a permanent bridge where the road now stands. Currently, the Pea
Island Inlet is spanned by a temporary bridge.
--- and newly proposed --option, suggested by Fish and Wildlife
officials, would be construction of a bridge that starts north of the
Pea Island breach, curves out into Pamlico Sound and ties in at
The idea is still at the conceptual stage.
“We have not even drawn a line on paper yet,” said Greer Beaty, a DOT
with DOT and the Wildlife Service are working to gather data and
details to see if such an option would be even be realistic, cost-
and/or design-wise, Barbour said. No such conclusion was made, he said,
when it was agreed to explore the concept.
“It was one of the ideas that the merger team felt warranted looking
into,” he said. “It is just a different possibility.”
Fish and Wildlife Service had supported construction of a 17.5-mile
bridge in Pamlico Sound that would have bypassed the refuge, which was
an earlier design in the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge replacement project.
But DOT discarded the option because of cost constraints. Construction
of a new bridge just west of the existing bridge is scheduled to begin
After public comments are reviewed and engineering is
complete, the merger team is expected to meet by the end of January to
select the alternatives. A recommendation will then be made to the
“Our fervent desire and hope,” Barbour said, “is that it will be
wrapped up within 45 days.”
For more information about NCDOT’s efforts to fix the breaches, visit www.ncdot.org/travel/nc12recovery,
follow the Highway 12 Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/NCDOT_NC12
or go to the Repairing N.C. 12 blog at http://nc12repairs.blogspot.com/.
is also accepting comments on the long-term plan for Highway 12 via
traditional mail and e-mail. The comment form and contact information
is available online at www.ncdot.gov/travel/nc12recovery.