Construction on the 2.4 mile Jug
Handle Bridge is expected to begin in a few weeks, as staging
preparations in Rodanthe begin to wind down, and final permits are put
“Prep work is continuing at the
staging area, but we should expect to see work begin on the actual
bridge itself in a month or so,” said NCDOT Public Relations Officer
(Ferry & Div. 1) Tim Haas. “The staging area is pretty much done,
and we are awaiting the very final permits [for the project.]”
Construction will begin on the
land-based portions of the bridge before continuing out into the open
water. Based on the current schedule, the bridge is expected to open to
traffic by late 2020.
The Jug Handle Bridge will stretch
from the southern portion of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to
northern Rodanthe, and will bypass the S-Turns section of N.C. Highway
12, which is highly susceptible to breaches during storms.
The bridge earned its “jug handle”
moniker from its distinctive shape that juts out into the Pamlico Sound
before reconnecting with N.C. Highway 12 north of Rodanthe. Per NCDOT,
this design – which is also referred to as the preferred alternative –
minimizes impacts to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, the ocean
shoreline, and the community of Rodanthe while maintaining safe and
reliable access for residents and visitors.
NCDOT also proposes building a
one-lane roundabout, (as opposed to a traditional "T" type
intersection), at the end of the existing N.C. 12, and by the relocated
N.C. 12 near the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Per NCDOT, this
concept was developed as a means to provide a safer intersection with
less potential conflict points - or areas where drivers are crossing,
merging, or leaving a road.
Traffic will be maintained on N.C.
Highway 12 while the new bridge is being built, and once construction
is complete, the existing roadway in the refuge will be removed, while
the existing section of N.C. Highway 12 in Rodanthe will remain open to
provide access to private properties.
The Jug Handle Bridge – along with
the Captain Richard Etheridge Bridge on Pea Island which was completed
in the spring of 2018 – is considered part of Phase II of the Bonner
Bridge Replacement Project. Staging for the Jug Handle Bridge, or the
initial portion of the overall project, began in the summer of 2018.