November 16, 2012
DOT struggling with Highway 12 repairs at the
S-curves; more ferries added for holiday
.....WITH SLIDE SHOW
Carolina Department of Transportation crews have fought a losing battle
trying to repair Highway 12 at the S-curves after Hurricane Sandy tore
up the roadbed, leveled the dunes, and damaged the sandbags in the area
almost two weeks ago.
“Much of the right-of-way is in the ocean,” Jerry Jennings, District 1 engineer, told reporters today in a conference call.
has built a four-wheel-drive bypass to the west of the damaged highway,
but has struggled to keep that open as punishing high tide after high
tide sends water pouring over the road.
Right now, the
four-wheel-drive access is open “intermittently,” which means mostly at
low tide, after DOT crews clean the sand and water from the high tide
off the road.
However, with another northeaster forecast to
develop tomorrow, move up the coast Sunday into next week, and keep
moderate to strong northeast and north winds whipping up the ocean
through the middle of next week, Jennings said it is possible that
eventually DOT will not be able to keep the route open even at low tide.
The National Weather Service at Newport, N.C., has issued a coastal flood advisory, which is now in effect until 7 p.m. Tuesday.
of 25-knot plus are expected into early next week along with higher
than normal tide levels and ocean overwash. There could also be
heavy rain at times at low pressure areas move along coast.
Sandy brushed by the coast, DOT had said it hoped to open Highway 12 to
all traffic by Thanksgiving. However, the bad weather and high
seas, he said, have made that goal impossible.
progress has been made on the road, dunes, or sandbags, Jennings
said. When the seas calm down, perhaps later next week, he said
that progress will depend on “how much room we have to work with.”
is possible, he said, that the Highway at the S-curves could be
repaired with dunes and new sandbags in place in two to three weeks,
which was the original estimate after the storm.
Jennings was cautious about setting another estimate on opening the
highway to all traffic until the amount of beach erosion can be
determined when the storms pass by.
He also said that the highway was moved as far west in the right-of-way that it can be moved after Hurricane Earl in 2010.
had a more upbeat report on the rest of Highway 12 north of the
S-curves and the Bonner Bridge and repair work in those areas should be
completed within a week or so.
At the Bonner Bridge, he said
repairs were to be completed today on cables on the stretch of the
bridge that was damaged by a runaway barge in 1990. The problem
with the cables surfaced in a post-storm inspection.
area of decking will have to be repaved, but one way traffic will be
maintained for vehicles traveling the four-wheel-drive route.
temporary bridge at Pea Island Inlet, opened last year by Hurricane
Irene, fared well in the storm, but there was erosion and damage to
both approaches to the bridge. Both approaches have now been
restructured with only installing guardrails remaining.
highway through Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge was covered by many
feet of sand from the flattened dunes. Jennings reported that the
sand has been cleared and the only dune construction not completed can
be done out of the Highway 12 right-of-way.
The thought of not
having the highway opened – except intermittently for four-wheel-drives
– during the busy Thanksgiving holidays has rental management companies
and business owners concerned.
Historically, Thanksgiving week
has attracted crowds of visitors and off-island property owners to
enjoy the beach and do some Christmas shopping. Black Friday is
also important to the shops on Hatteras and Ocracoke.
Getting to the islands will be a challenge.
Jed Dixon, deputy director of DOT’s Ferry Division, said sound ferries
have been added between Ocracoke and the mainland and there is a
stand-by ferry at the emergency route between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe
and on the Hatteras-Ocracoke route, where ferries are running only
every two hours instead of on the hour.
Ferry schedules including the runs added on the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route for all of next week are at the end of this article.
also said that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sidecaster dredge
Merritt will be at the Rodanthe ferry channel for seven to 10 days to
try to increase the water depth there. With shoaling, the channel
is now about 5 to 6 feet deep, he said, and the ferries draw five feet
He also noted that the strong northeast winds could interfere with ferry operations.
on how hard it blows, we could reach a water level where we couldn’t
operate,” Dixon said, adding that the northeast wind blows the water
out of the sound near Rodanthe.
Dixon said he expects that the ferries will be very busy this weekend, especially when the four-wheel-drive route is not open.
Susan Flythe, vice-president and general manager of the Cape Hatteras
Electric Cooperative, said today that the transmission poles at the
S-curves that were threatened earlier in the week have been stabilized.
Forty-some sandbags she said are diverting overwash around the poles for now.
she added, there will have to be repairs, but the cooperative is hoping
to delay them until DOT announces, perhaps in January, what its
long-term solution to the highway problems at the S-curves will be.
Four-wheel-drive route information
four-wheel drives vehicles are permitted on the route. There are
checkpoints north of the Bonner Bridge and in Mirlo Beach in Rodanthe.
weather conditions are not causing closures, the four-wheel drive route
is scheduled to be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Because of hazardous
driving conditions, Dare County first responders will escort drivers
before dawn and after dusk when the road is accessible to traffic.
route may well be closed around the times of high tide. To find
out road conditions on the route and on Hatteras, click on the flashing
yellow icon at the top of the Island Free Press Front Page.
NCDOT asks motorists to follow these important safety measures on the four-wheel drive access
drive four-wheel drive vehicles with a high ground clearance.
Cross-over four-wheel drive vehicles that are lower to the ground may
get stuck in the rugged terrain;
you drive at night, use extreme caution. There will be no lights staged
along the route, so your vehicle’s headlights will offer the only way
for you to see;
- Drive slowly;
- Pay close attention to the temporary traffic signals and
- All four-wheel drive vehicles are encouraged to lower tire pressure to minimize the chances of becoming stuck.
Emergency ferry schedule
The emergency ferry is open to everyone, including visitors.
wishing to use the emergency route are reminded to expect waits and to
be patient, as priority status is still in effect. Repair and supply
trucks have priority at all times. Dare County residents have priority
Monday through Friday.
The waits have been long – hours at
times -- on the emergency ferry, which takes at least two hours to
cross the sound. You are advised to arrive early and be
patient. You might also consider bring water, coffee, soft
drinks, and snacks.
The Stumpy Point-Rodanthe schedule is:
- Departing Stumpy Point: 6 a.m, 8 a.m. 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., and 10 p.m.
- Departing Rodanthe: 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m, 7 p.m., 9 p.m., 11 p.m.
Ferry information is available by calling 800-293-3779 (BY-FERRY) and pressing 1, or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/ncdot_ferry.
to the Stumpy Point Emergency Ferry Dock at 100 Log Storage Road, off
Highway 264: Take Highway 64 to Highway 264. Follow Highway
264 approximately 13 miles past the entrance to the village of Stumpy
Point. Signs for emergency ferry service are posted to ferry
entrance that will be on your left.
Directions to the
Rodanthe Emergency Ferry Dock at 23170 Myrna Peters Road,
Rodanthe: Turn west off Highway 12 onto Myrna Peters Road, which
is located just north of the Community Building in Rodanthe.
Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry schedule
Visitors can now enter Hatteras Island via the Hatteras Inlet ferry. The ferry is still running every two hours.
The Hatteras-Ocracoke schedule is:
visitors wishing to come to Hatteras through Ocracoke, keep in mind
that travel from Cedar Island to Ocracoke and Swan Quarter to Ocracoke
requires a reservation by calling 1-800-293-3779.
- Departing Hatteras at 6 a.m., 8, 10, noon, 2 p.m., 4, 6, 8, 10 and midnight; and
- Departing Ocracoke at 5 a.m., 7, 9, 11, 1 p.m., 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11.
Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries
The ferries from Swan Quarter and Cedar Island require a reservation.
of the Thanksgiving week ferries are already booked, but the Ferry
Division has added three more days of extra departures from each side
on its Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route, to assist with Thanksgiving
traffic. In addition to Nov. 21-25, travelers can now book the
additional departures Monday, Nov. 19; Tues., Nov. 20, and Mon., Nov.
The additional departures include:
- Departing Swan Quarter at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.; and
- Departing Ocracoke at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
As a reminder, the regular fall schedule on the Pamlico Sound is:
- Departing Cedar Island and Ocracoke at 7:30 a.m., 10, 1 p.m. and 4;
- Departing Swan Quarter at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and
- Departing Ocracoke to Swan Quarter at 7 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
same extra departures will continue to be offered on weekends as well,
until Highway 12 reopens north of Rodanthe and the emergency ferry
route is deactivated.
Ferry reservations can be made online at
www.ncferry.org or by calling 800-293-3779 (BY-FERRY) and pressing 2.
Ferry information is available via Twitter at www.twitter.com/ncdot_ferry.
schedules and reservations on the ferries from the mainland to
Ocracoke, go to the N.C. Ferry Division website at
http://www.ncdot.gov/ferry/. The Ferry Division has been adding extra
departures to and from Swan Quarter on the weekends.
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