RALEIGH - The N.C. Department of Transportation is moving equipment and crews in place along the coast to effectively respond to Tropical Storm Arthur. The forecast currently shows the storm developing into a hurricane Thursday as it approaches North Carolina, bringing with it the potential for heavy rain and gale force winds.
"Our crews are working diligently and are ready and prepared to help all citizens along the coast and to keep people and products moving along our transportation network," said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. "I want to thank our team for their proactive efforts to prepare for this storm and to help travelers continue to safely reach their destinations."
Along the Outer Banks, crews are staging motor graders, excavators, bulldozers and front-end loaders in Buxton, Kitty Hawk, Ocracoke and Pea Island. NCDOT has more equipment ready to mobilize, if needed, as well as employees prepared to patrol N.C. 12 during and after the storm. Divers will also inspect the Bonner Bridge once it is safe for them to enter the water after the storm passes.
In response to a voluntary evacuation order from Hyde County, the NCDOT Ferry Division began round-the-clock service between Ocracoke and Hatteras at 2 p.m. today. This schedule will continue until weather conditions make it unsafe to operate. Ferry tolls on the Ocracoke-Cedar Island and Ocracoke-Swan Quarter runs are currently waived, and they will operate as free routes until the evacuation order is lifted. Crews have also inspected the emergency ferry docks to ensure the sites are ready to use, if needed. The Ferry Division expects brief service interruptions due to high winds, starting Thursday afternoon on the southern routes and possibly lasting into afternoon Friday on the most northern routes.
In NCDOT's Division 2, which includes Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Pamlico and Pitt counties, maintenance crews have checked equipment and inventory, and prepared high water signs and other traffic control devices for potential use. The division will have crews ready to respond once the storm passes.
Division 3 crews, who cover Brunswick, Duplin, New Hanover, Onslow, Pender and Sampson counties, have their equipment fueled up and ready, and remain on standby to help clear roads of debris and direct drivers around standing water or downed power lines, as needed.
The Captain of the Ports has the Port of Morehead City on Condition X-Ray status, which means gale force winds are predicted to arrive at the port within 48 hours. The facility is now only open to inbound traffic that can work and sail before the arrival of those gale force winds. Ports staff continues to prepare the facility for storm conditions by positioning sand bags and preparing specialized emergency equipment such as welding gear. The Port of Wilmington is on Condition Modified Whiskey status, which means port employees have topped off fuel for generators and portable light plants, and made sure warehouse doors are properly braced. NCDOT will provide real-time information about weather and travel conditions through its Twitter feeds. As the storm approaches, the department will send out tweets about road closures, flooding, ferry cancellations and evacuation routes. Additional information about the storm is available on the department's other social media and web-based tools, which are easily accessible on the NCDOT website.