N.C. 12 is the lifeline along the Outer Banks as it connects both Hatteras and Ocracoke islands to each other and to the mainland of North Carolina.
Not only is it the primary evacuation route in severe weather, but residents depend on the 151-mile road for off-island community services (e.g., such as hospitals, emergency response and waste collection). Coastal communities depend on it for tourism, which helps boost the economy.
Hurricanes and other storms frequently cause the ocean to wash over portions of N.C. 12, depositing large quantities of sand and sometimes damaging the roadway and interrupting access to the islands.
In addition to repairs from storms, the road must be continually repaired and maintained to prevent permanent loss of access on Hatteras Island.
Several projects and studies are underway along N.C. 12 in Dare and Hyde counties:
- N.C. 12 Pea Island Interim Bridge
- Construction of an interim bridge on N.C. 12 at Pea Island to replace the temporary metal bridge built after Hurricane Irene washed out a stretch of the road in 2011
- N.C. 12 Rodanthe Bridge
- A long-term solution that will protect N.C. 12 in this area from erosion and potential damage caused by storms