Carolina Department of Transportation received approval yesterday
from the federal government to move forward with the planning of a
bridge in north Rodanthe that would carry traffic over an area that
is vulnerable to frequent damage and ocean overwash in storms.
Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the revised Environmental
Assessment for the Rodanthe bridge, a key step toward constructing a
new permanent bridge for Highway 12 in northern Rodanthe. The
bridge on a new location includes a 2.4-mile-long bridge known as a
“jug handle,” extending from the southern end of the Pea Island
National Wildlife Refuge over the Pamlico Sound into Rodanthe.
The new bridge
will be a long-term solution to keep Highway 12 open through an area
that in the past has dealt with severe storm damage. In 2014, a beach
nourishment project was completed that used 1.6 million cubic yards
of dredged sand to protect the highway until a new bridge can be
meetings in January 2014, NCDOT changed its preferred option for a
long-term solution in the Rodanthe area from the Bridge
Within Existing N.C. 12 Easement Alternative to
on New Location Alternative.
NCDOT says that
it prefers this design over a bridge along the existing route of
Highway 12 because it minimizes impacts to the Pea Island National
Wildlife Refuge, the ocean shoreline and the community of Rodanthe,
while maintaining safe and reliable access for area residents and
visitors to southern Hatteras Island.
has been redesigned since the 2014 public meetings in order to
minimize impacts within Pamlico Sound and to the Rodanthe community
and it was chosen by the DOT as its preferred alternative in June
The NCDOT will
begin soliciting public comments on the revised Environmental
Assessment, and host a set of local public meetings this summer to
publicize the preferred alternative.
will partner with the FHWA to consider those public comments and
identify the final selected alternative as required under the
National Environmental Policy Act. A Record of Decision can then be
issued concerning the route choice, which allows the NCDOT to award
the project as early as this fall.
The bridge is
estimated to cost between $179.3 million and $198.3 million. The
project will be built using the design-build method, which allows the
department to contract a team that consists of both designers and a
contractor to simultaneously design and construct the project.
Projects can be let sooner and completed faster using this approach.
The project is one of two projects
south of the Oregon Inlet that make up Phase II of the Bonner
Bridge Replacement Project. The Rodanthe Bridge
project is considered Phase IIb. Phase IIa of the project is the
bridge over the Pea Island Inlet area, where a temporary bridge is
now under construction. No long-term alternative has been chosen for