November 3, 2014

DOT plans to raise road at
temporary bridge and build a berm


The North Carolina Department of Transportation plans to raise the roadbed on Highway 12 both north and south of the temporary bridge on Pea Island to help with continual flooding from ocean overwash in the area and continues to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to build a berm on the oceanside of the south approach.

NCDOT Division Engineer Jerry Jennings said in an e-mail today that the south approach to the bridge -- which spans an inlet formed by Hurricane Irene in 2011 -- will be raised as much as 18 inches for a distance of approximately 1,350 feet. The north approach will be raised as much as 12 inches for a distance of about 1,000 feet.

Jennings said that DOT is currently coordinating with the contractor and subcontractor and that he anticipates that the work will begin within the next two weeks. The project will take one to two weeks to complete, and the highway will remain open to traffic during that time.

Following the paving, new pavement markings will be added in the area.

There are currently no dunes between the highway and the open, flat beach on the south side of the temporary bridge, and the ocean overwashes in the area in even minor storm events and sometimes even during astronomic high tides.

"We do plan to construct a berm," Jennings also said, but a definitive schedule for that has not been established.

The berm construction needs the permission of USFWS.

Jennings also replied to the criticism of some that the highway should have been higher when the road was repaired and the bridge installed right after Hurricane Irene.

Please remember that following Hurricane Irene the road was completely closed," Jennings said. "NCDOT’s primary objective was to restore access to Hatteras Island as quickly as possible. The road was reopened about six weeks following the storm.  Had we had more time, we may have done some things differently. However, the existing roadway elevation through this area is comparable to the elevation of the roadway prior to Hurricane Irene.

"In fact," Jennings added. "the southern end of the area that is currently flooding is pavement that existed prior to the temporary bridge being constructed. The flooding appears to be more the result of changes in topography and loss of sand between the road and ocean than the elevation of the roadway. However, we hope that elevating the roadway will reduce the impacts of the flooding on traffic."

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