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.
As a long-term solution, the N.C. Department of Transportation plans to elevate this portion of N.C. 12 onto 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.
The project – along with
a bridge project on N.C. 12 near the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge – is considered part of Phase II of the
Bonner Bridge Replacement Project.