RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Transportation has begun the process to develop permanent solutions for the sections of N.C. 12 south of the Bonner Bridge severely damaged by Hurricane Irene. Department staff met on Tuesday, Oct. 18, with representatives from a dozen state and federal agencies to discuss possible options for permanently fixing the largest breach area on Pea Island and the breach at Rodanthe.
"N.C. 12 is the lifeline for the economy of the Outer Banks, and we want to ensure that it offers reliable service to residents and visitors for decades to come," said NCDOT Chief Operating Officer Jim Trogdon. "That is why we are working closely with our counterparts to do what Gov. Bev Perdue requested -create a design plan to permanently address the area's long-range needs."
The agencies represented two groups: the Interagency Leadership Team, which works on policy issues associated with the process, and the Merger Team, which will develop the permanent solutions.
They shared their thoughts on several options for fixing the largest Pea Island breach where the temporary bridge now stands. Those options include:
- Beach renourishment;
- Constructing a bridge within the existing easement; and
- Building a bridge or road on a new location.
The groups also discussed the following options to solve problems at Rodanthe:
- Beach renourishment;
- Building a bridge where the road now stands; and
- Constructing a bridge or road on a new location.
NCDOT will use the comments received from agency representatives as the design plan is developed. The next steps the department will take include:
- Holding a panel discussion with experts in the fields of coastal science and engineering to learn about the changes in conditions along N.C. 12 resulting from Hurricane Irene, identify issues and constraints associated with future maintenance of the highway, and provide engineering advice on design parameters for long-term solutions at the two breach sites;
- Hosting public meetings to formally present the options to citizens, gather their input and answer their questions;
- Providing all feedback to the Merger Team and securing support to begin the permitting process; and
- Presenting a realistic, fundable, buildable design plan to Gov. Perdue.
The process to develop permanent solutions for the two breaches on N.C. 12 is a continuation of work already under way as part of the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project. Phase one of the project involves replacing the 2.7-mile bridge over Oregon Inlet, which is currently in the design stage. The project also includes an active coastal monitoring program that uses scientific data to determine what types of improvements are needed on N.C. 12 between Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Rodanthe and when that work will occur. Using this program, NCDOT will enact phase two of the project, which will permanently fix the areas damaged by Hurricane Irene.
For more information about the damage to N.C. 12 from Hurricane Irene and NCDOT's efforts to temporarily fix it, follow our N.C. 12 Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/NCDOT_NC12 or go to our Repairing N.C. 12 blog at http://nc12repairs.blogspot.com/.