Beach nourishment still being pursued
for S-curves, but nothing is definite
that Highway 12 has reopened north of Rodanthe, transportation
officials will be keeping a close eye on the sandbags that hold back a
surging ocean, as plans are being made to widen the beach.
The beach at the S-curves is nearly non-existent and the sandbags
protecting the highway stand at the edge of the surf.
monitoring and maintaining the sandbags, there’s little else the North
Carolina Department of Transportation can do while details are worked
out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to get the beach widened.
“I’ve crossed all my fingers and toes,” said Victor Barbour, DOT
technical services administrator.
The highway at the S-curves was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in October
and two northeasters in November.
DOT had two choices for replacing the road, according to Jerry
Jennings, DOT’s District 1 engineer.
first was to replace it where it was before the storm, which he said
last month would require beach nourishment because of the erosion
caused by the battering seas.
The second option was to move the
road to the west – out of the right-of-way and onto Pea Island National
Wildlife Refuge land. That option would require a lengthy
DOT chose to go with the first option
replacing the road in the existing right of way, and repair work was
finished yesterday, Dec. 19.
However, the ocean is still right
at the edge of the highway at high tide as nourishment is being pursued
by both DOT and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
that engineering work is being done to determine what sort of beach
nourishment project is feasible to use as a temporary measure until a
permanent solution is in place. The DOT is expected to
the chosen long-term alternative for Rodanthe in March.
from this “emergency” nourishment at the S-curves, Dare County is
investigating ways to fund its own beach nourishment projects at
Rodanthe and Buxton as a permanent solution, similar to what the town
of Nags Head did with its recent beach widening project.
the beach is mostly gone north of the Rodanthe Pier, said Dare County
manager Bobby Outten, he does not believe that the federal government’s
policy against beach nourishment would apply.
“I suppose as
the process goes on,” he said, “that will be determined -- whether the
Park Service has any say-so over what we do.”
If the county
does decide to do beach nourishment, Outten said, it would take at
least “a couple of years” before the project would be ready to go out
Barbour also said that the DOT expects to
“work though” any policy issues on beach nourishment with the National
Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Keistler, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said
that the agency is waiting for funds to be finalized by the state
Department of Transportation, which are being provided mostly by the
Federal Highway Administration from its Hurricane Sandy emergency
Cost estimates can’t be released before a contract bid is accepted, he
said the Corps is working to identify sand sources and is coordinating
with the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Planning is still in the preliminary stages, he said, but it appears
that a nourishment project is being seriously pursued.
“I have not heard anything other than us moving forward,” Keistler said
plan is to put out three possible solutions --- pros and cons, cost and
schedule --- and allow the DOT to decide what direction they want to
The compatibility of the sand is crucial in meeting the
permitting requirement of the Pea Island refuge, which has been
cooperating with the DOT in restoration of the road.
experts have questioned the availability of offshore sand in the volume
necessary at S-curves, which has the highest beach erosion rate on the
Last December, the DOT removed beach nourishment
as an alternative to fix Highway 12, citing high costs and the
difficulty of finding sand.
Keistler said that he expects the Corps will have further details
available in January.
Burrus, Dare County commissioner from Hatteras village, said that he
understands that an agreement between NCDOT and the Corps to do
emergency nourishment at the S-Curves is currently languishing at the
Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C.
one of several Dare officials who traveled to Washington last week to
confer with the state’s congressional delegation. Staffers
to believe, he said, that the memorandum of understanding has been
delayed by a backlog in paperwork, not political issues.
officials, Burrus said, would like the Corps to use the sand from the
channel at Oregon Inlet, which has once again became clogged with sand
since the October hurricane and the northeasters that followed.