The last of 2,048 giant sandbags was laid on Monday at the S-curves in northern Rodanthe to protect the reconstructed Highway 12 in the area that was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in late October and several northeasters in November.
Today, the last load of sand was delivered by dump truck from a sandpit in Avon to complete a rebuilt dune protecting the sandbags, according to North Carolina Department of Transportation site engineer Pablo Hernandez.
Hernandez said that by Friday, equipment will have been cleared, the area will be cleaned up, and Barnhill Contracting will have shaped the west shoulder of the highway, where sand has built up from construction work, wind, and some ocean overwash.
“We’ve done all we can do but the final paving,” he said.
The final paving will have to wait until spring when the weather is warmer for transporting the asphalt for two hours to the site.
The sandbags and rebuilt dune, Hernandez said, are wider and higher than those that were protecting the road before Sandy.
The dune he said is about 10 to 12 feet high and covers two levels of the big sandbags that total 8 feet in height, including 4 feet of the sandbags that are buried below ground and another 4 feet on top of that.
The last week or so of work, Hernandez said, was marked by ocean overwash when crews didn’t expect it and little overwash when they did.
On the weekend before last during a lunar higher tide, the ocean surprised the crews by washing over the work area for the sandbags. And on Wednesday night, Jan. 16, when a storm brought wind gusts up to 50 mph, there was no overwash. The wind blew over a few orange cones and that was it.
The ocean is still right on the east sides of the rebuilt dune, with little or no beach protecting the road.
However, DOT is still pursuing nourishment of the beach to hold back the storm tides.
Bobby Lewis, chief of staff to DOT chief operating officer Jim Trogdon, told the Dare County commissioners at their meeting last night that DOT has signed off on a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the beach nourishment. Now, the department is waiting for the Army Corps to sign off.
Lewis said the agreement had to go through Washington, D.C., which has held it up longer than usual.
However, many details must be worked out and permits obtained before the Army Corps can start putting sand on the beach at the Highway 12 hotspot.
Meanwhile, the road is vulnerable in even the weakest of the winter and spring northeasters.
Hernandez also added that he has been working on a barge under the Bonner Bridge with the contracting company that is sinking test pilings for the replacement bridge, which could be under construction soon – depending on the outcome of a lawsuit by environmental groups to stop it. The test piling project, he said, will be finished about mid-February.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To keep up with Highway 12 news, go to the NCDOT Facebook page, which is at a new URL. You can find it at https://www.facebook.com/NCDOT .