N.C. 12 – from the southern portion of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to northern Rodanthe, including a section known as the "S-curves" – is susceptible to breaches caused by storms, including Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
In response to severe beach erosion caused by Hurricane Sandy, the Federal Highway Administration in March 2013 approved emergency relief funds to pay for a beach nourishment project that used 1.6 million cubic yards of sand dredged from two sandbars in the Atlantic Ocean. The project – a short-term solution to preserve the highway until a long-term solution to the breach could be developed and built – was completed in fall 2014.
Based on comments from environmental and regulatory review agencies, as well as public feedback, the N.C. Department of Transportation's preferred long-term solution is to elevate this portion of N.C. 12 onto a 2.4-mile bridge that extends from the southern end of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge over the Pamlico Sound into Rodanthe.
The bridge is one of two projects south of the Oregon Inlet that make up Phase II of the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project. The N.C. 12 Rodanthe Bridge project is considered Phase IIB.
New Preferred Alternative Identified
NCDOT's revised Environmental Assessment – approved by the Federal Highway Administration on May 24, 2016 – identifies the 2014B Bridge on New Location Alternative, as the its preferred option for a long-term solution to breaches in the Rodanthe area.
This option involves building a 2.4-mile bridge – known as a "jug handle" – that extends from the southern end of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge over the Pamlico Sound into Rodanthe.
Traffic would be maintained on N.C. 12 while the new bridge is being built. Once construction is complete, the existing roadway in the refuge would be removed, and that land would be returned to the refuge. In Rodanthe, the existing N.C. 12 roadway would remain to provide access to private properties.
The 2014B Bridge on New Location Alternative is preferred because it would minimize impacts to the refuge, the ocean shoreline, the Rodanthe community (including homes) and vegetation in Pamlico Sound. It also has the support of federal and state environmental resource and regulatory agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies that issue permits for construction.
Other Alternatives Considered
The original Environmental Assessment – released in December 2013 – identified the Bridge Within Existing N.C. 12 Easement as the preferred alternative. It was revised in response to comments received from environmental resource and regulatory agencies, and citizens.
The 2014B Bridge on New Location Alternative's alignment is closer to the shoreline than the 2013 Bridge on New Location Alternative assessed in the 2013 Environmental Assessment. The two alignments are virtually identical on land in Rodanthe and in the refuge. The alignment change in the Pamlico Sound was made to minimize impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation.
Also considered was a third alignment, the 2014A Bridge on New Location Alternative.
In June 2016, public hearings were held to present the revised preferred alternative for the long-term Rodanthe Bridge and gather public feedback. Now NCDOT, in partnership with the Federal Highway Administration, will consider the comments received and identify the final selected alternative as required under the National Environmental Policy Act.
A Record of Decision, the final environmental document, can then be issued concerning the route choice, which will allow NCDOT to award a contract for the construction of the project as early as fall 2016.
Project News Releases
- Currently, no recent news releases.
NCDOT held public meetings in Ocracoke, Rodanthe and Manteo June 20-22, during which time NCDOT representatives received feedback from the community and answered questions about the project.
2016 Public Hearing Documents
Project Development Engineer
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Resources for Local Property Owners
In many cases, it is inevitable that a certain amount of private property must be acquired. The displacement of homes and businesses is minimized to the extent practicable. The following brochures will answer questions about this process.