November 28, 2012
Stuck vehicles cause more
DOT restrictions on four-wheel route
By IRENE NOLAN
North Carolina Department of Transportation is putting more
restrictions on the four-wheel-drive route on northern Hatteras Island
because of an ongoing problem with vehicles getting stuck.
problem area for four-wheel-drive vehicles is at the S-curves in
northern Rodanthe. Now that the ocean is no longer regularly
overwashing the route at high tide, the sand has dried out and become
soft and churned up, making the tire ruts deeper.
route is just a set of tire tracks in each direction, and vehicles
getting stuck are holding up traffic in both directions.
DOT said on its Facebook page today that about 45 stuck vehicles had to be towed on Sunday.
DOT said that no trucks weighing more than one ton will be allowed on
the route. One ton is basically the size of a Ford F350 or a
Chevrolet/Dodge 3500. Vehicles towing trailers will also not be
permitted to use the route.
There are two checkpoints on Highway
12 between the Bonner Bridge and Rodanthe. One is to the north at
the Oregon Inlet Fishing Center and the other is on the south end at
Mirlo Beach. The checkpoints are manned by the Dare County Sheriff’s
Office, which enforces requirements set by DOT.
four-wheel-drive vehicles will be allowed between these two
checkpoints. Travelers without four-wheel-drive will be turned back.
only exception to the “no trailers” rule will be the three contractors
that have been regularly towing two-wheel-drive vehicles between
Rodanthe and Oregon Inlet Fishing Center for a fee.
These contractors are not permitted to load vehicles between the two checkpoints.
are also reminded by the Dare County Sheriff’s Office that the Pea
Island National Wildlife Refuge on northern Hatteras is currently
closed to all pedestrian and vehicle traffic, so stopping along the
highway to explore or take photos is not permitted.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adds that the highway is open as “a transportation corridor only.”
Greg Wilson of the county Sheriff’s Office said that deputies are
basically advising folks on the four-wheel-drive route to “drive like
you would on the beach on July 4.”
One major problem, he said,
are drivers who are not taking down their tire pressure. There
are places he said on both ends of the closed highway to put air back
in your tires – at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center on the north and at
Island Convenience on the south.
When you travel through the
area of churned up sand at the S-curves, Wilson said, you should keep
moving forward at a slow but steady rate of speed. Do not try to
change “lanes” if the vehicle ahead of you gets stuck, he added.
Just stop behind the vehicle and wait for it to be towed out.
Drivers who are changing “lanes” are getting stuck in the process or are blocking traffic coming in the other direction.
also reminds drivers that vehicles getting stuck or changing “lanes” on
the route are not only causing delays for others using the route but
are also damaging the makeshift roadway.
route is open from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m., but before dawn and after
dusk, the Sheriff’s Office is providing a pilot car that leads traffic
between Rodanthe to the Bonner Bridge.