January 23, 2017

New extended Bypass Road at Cape Point is underway


The National Park Service's staff members began work last week on the new bigger and longer "Bypass Road" that will help ORV drivers get to Cape Point at some times when the tide is too high or the beach is too badly eroded -- as it has been this fall and  winter.

The road is a part of a package of changes to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore's final ORV rule that were published in the Federal Register on Dec. 21 and became effective on Jan. 20.

The Bypass Road is one of the access regulations that the park was not required by 2014 legislation to take a second look at and perhaps make changes to. However, Park Superintendent David Hallac has said that it was obvious at public meetings and in public comments that ORV drivers wanted the Bypass Road back -- and longer.

The road had been used informally without incident before the rule, but after the rule, only a small portion was eventually opened back up -- even as the beach became more eroded in the area between Ramps 43 and 44 and Cape Point.

Under the new rule, the Cape Point Bypass extension will begin near the end of Ramp 44 and head south behind the dunes approximately 2,800 feet until the dunes disappear and then the road exits onto the beach.

The entire route will completely bypass both sections that are often referred to as "the narrows."

I walked the entire route with our staff," Hallac said, "and it will really make a difference during the fall and winter when high tides erode the beachfront."

Most importantly, Hallac added, "the new Bypass Road, unlike the existing bypass, which was supposed to be a temporary route and one that was never designated as an ORV route, the entire length of the new Bypass Road will be an official off-road vehicle route, as described in the Final Rule."

 This project is expected to be completed in about three weeks, depending on weather and other demands on the maintenance staff's time.

In additon, John Kowlok, the park's chief of maintenance reports, that the improvements to Ramp 44 and 49 to help keep them passable after flooding rains are almost complete.

In fact, Ramp 49 is complete.  The ramp has been raised 36 inches and two sets of culverts have been installed under the ramps to help stormwater pass though and keep the ramp from become a dam.

Ramp 44, Kowlock said is 75 percent complete.  It has been raised 24 inches and one set of culverts has been installed.

Hallac and many of his staff members will be at two informal meetings this week to discuss the changes to the final rule and anything else that people want to ask. The first public meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 24, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Cape Hatteras Secondary School, Room 303, in Buxton. The second meeting will be on Wednesday, Jan. 25, from 11:30-1:30 p.m. at the Ocracoke Community Center in Ocracoke.

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