An Early Christmas Gift: Highway 12 reopens
and Ocracoke got an early Christmas gift this evening when Highway 12
reopened to all traffic shortly after 6:30 p.m.
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.
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
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
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.”
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.
Hatteras-Ocracoke route will continue to run every two hours and will
not revert to its normal winter hourly departures until sometime after
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.
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 www.ncdot.gov/nc12/.
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