December 19, 2012

An Early Christmas Gift:  Highway 12 reopens

Hatteras and Ocracoke got an early Christmas gift this evening when Highway 12 reopened to all traffic shortly after 6:30 p.m.

Rumors that the road would reopen this evening began making the rounds around noon today, and islanders were eagerly awaiting the final word as a sunny and cool day gave way to a fantastic island sunset.

North Carolina Department of Transportation crews and contractors finished paving the 0.4-mile section of the highway at the S-curves in northern Rodanthe damaged by Hurricane Sandy in late October and back-to-back northeasters in November around 4 p.m.

Other crews made quick work of painting the lines on the newly paved road.

The area around the S-curves and Mirlo Beach was busy today, the second day of paving. As word spread, a few hopeful islanders began lining up to take the newly repaired road off the island.

Lt. Greg Wilson of the Dare County Sheriff’s Office got word that the road was open shortly after 6:30, and the office closed down two checkpoints that had allowed four-wheel-drive only vehicles on a short sand bypass around the damaged road.

About the same time, crews began closing down the emergency ferry operation between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe.  The long ferry trip has been the only access to the island for those without four-wheel-drive vehicles or for all during times of ocean overwash of the sand route.

DOT had hoped to have the highway reopened by Thanksgiving, but the constant pounding from northeast winds and high seas prevented that.

So islanders and those planning to visit for the holiday had their fingers crossed for DOT’s new goal of “on or before” Christmas.
“Our crews have battled wind, rain and rough seas to repair and restore traffic to this critical lifeline to Hatteras Island,” said NCDOT Secretary Gene Conti. “We appreciate their hard work and look forward to seeing vehicles flowing on the road once again between Rodanthe and the mainland.”

To rebuild Highway 12, crews removed the damaged pavement, graded the road bed, and hauled in dozens of dump truck loads of asphalt from Williamston to form the new roadway. They finished putting down the second layer of asphalt today. Then they proceeded with striping the new lanes and reconstructing shoulders to create a gentle slope to ensure motorists safety.
Sandbag installation and dune reconstruction along Highway 12 will continue for about three more weeks.  Crews have filled about 700 of the 1,800 huge sandbags that will be piled along the highway before sand is dumped on top of them to form a new dune.

With road access to Hatteras restored, the emergency ferries are in the process of ending operations.

The Hatteras-Ocracoke route will continue to run every two hours and will not revert to its normal winter hourly departures until sometime after Christmas.

DOT says the vessels used during the emergency operation will return to service at the routes where they were previously assigned, but the Ferry Division will remain on standby to assist if Highway 12 becomes impassable again.
For more information about Highway 12 recovery efforts, visit the N.C. 12 recovery webpage or the N.C. 12 Facebook page. For the latest ferry schedules, call 1-800-BY-FERRY and press “1,” or visit the NCDOT Ferry webpage.
In addition, a new webpage that showcases projects along N.C. 12 from the replacement of the Bonner Bridge to short- and long-term solutions for the breaches caused by Hurricane Irene last year is now live at

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