November 14, 2012
High winds and seas continue to slow Highway 12 repairs
…WITH SLIDE SHOW
By IRENE NOLAN
winds and heavy seas after the passage of a cold front yesterday have
further hampered North Carolina Department of Transportation efforts to
repair the damage done to Highway 12 on Oct. 27-28 as Hurricane Sandy
brushed the island.
Dunes were flattened and many feet of sand
covered the road on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, asphalt in
the southbound lane coming off the temporary bridge at Pea Island Inlet was
damaged, and the road and sandbags were damaged and the dunes flattened
at the S-curves just north of Mirlo Beach.
contractors began repairs last week, along came a northeaster. It did
not do further damage to the highway but sand and ocean washed onto the
DOT cleaned that up and opened a four-wheel-drive route
through Pea Island at noon on Saturday, then had to close it briefly
when a traffic accident between two dumps trucks killed one highway
worker and injured another early Sunday morning.
four-wheel-drive area was open Monday and much of Tuesday from 5 a.m.
until 10 p.m. with Dare County first responders escorting drivers with
a pilot car before dawn and after dusk.
The high seas and tides
after the passage of the cold front yesterday had the road closed last
night and this morning because of ocean overwash at high tide.
four-wheel-drive route reopened about 1 this afternoon, but is likely
to be closed again at tonight’s high tide, which is about 7:30.
as if all that wasn’t enough, the wind and waves will continue
battering northern Hatteras Island through the week and another
northeaster is forecast for the weekend.
access on Pea Island along N.C. 12 is open again, following closure due
to ocean overwash this morning,” according to a late afternoon news
release from DOT. “Access is expected to be closed intermittently
during upcoming storms, and could occur with very little advance notice
due to rapidly changing weather conditions.”
have high tides and strong winds, the possibility of dangerous
traveling conditions due to overwash increases greatly,” said NCDOT
Division Engineer Jerry Jennings. “NCDOT crews and contractors are
working hard to restore N.C. 12, but we are at the mercy of the
DOT has said since the hurricane that it hopes crews
and contractors could get the highway open to all traffic by
Thanksgiving, but that goal is in jeopardy with the current weather
And if the four-wheel route is closed or open only
intermittently, Thanksgiving week travel will be hampered because the
only reliable access is now by ferries, which are also sometimes at the
mercy of the wind and tide conditions in the sounds.
a grouping of three Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative transmission
poles was threatened by overwash just north of Mirlo Beach. The poles
are now stabilized, according to CHEC executive director Susan Flythe.
was a dune sitting around the three poles until Sandy,” Flythe
said. Now, she added, the poles sit in a shallow depression that
keeps filling up with water from overwash.
First, CHEC added
more guy wires to stabilize the poles, and today, Flythe said, the
cooperative got permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and
CAMA to place sandbags around the poles.
Weather forecasters are
saying that the new coastal storm will slowly develop off the southeast
coast Saturday into Sunday, then move along the coast through early
“This system has the potential to bring strong wind,
locally heavy rainfall, and coastal flooding late this weekend into
early next week,” according to the National Weather Service.
differ on how far off the coast the storm will be, and effects could be
more damaging if the storm is closer to the Outer Banks.
Weather Service at Newport, N.C., today issued a coastal flood advisory
until 7 p.m. Sunday. The advisory says that a combination of
prolonged north to northeast winds plus a monthly above normal tide
could produce tide levels 1 to 2 feet about normal and minor ocean
overwash along Highway 12.
However, we know that even minor overwash now could be a problem and set back highway repairs.
Here is what we know now about Hatteras Island access:
- There is now no chance that DOT will finish repairs early and open Highway 12 to all vehicles this weekend.
can enter Hatteras – and Ocracoke – but only four-wheel-drive vehicles
have access to the highway between Rodanthe and the Bonner Bridge.
of four-wheel- drive vehicles should expect a rough ride, which will
include traveling over sand, damaged pavement and some water. On the
sandy portions of the route, they will follow lane markers comprised of
barrels, cones and/or flags.
who drove the route before the most recent overwash said it was not
difficult with one lane of asphalt in each direction in most areas and
one-lane travel at the S-curves, the temporary bridge, and the Bonner
four-wheel drive access is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Because of the
hazardous driving conditions, Dare County first responders are
escorting drivers before dawn and after dusk when the road is
accessible to traffic.
- NCDOT asks motorists to follow these important safety measures on the four-wheel drive access
drive four-wheel drive vehicles with a high ground clearance.
Cross-over four-wheel drive vehicles that are lower to the ground may
get stuck in the rugged terrain;
you drive at night, use extreme caution. There will be no lights staged
along the route, so your vehicle’s headlights will offer the only way
for you to see;
- Drive slowly;
- Pay close attention to the temporary traffic signals and
- All four-wheel drive vehicles are encouraged to lower tire pressure to minimize the chances of becoming stuck.
are urged to “know before you go” about traffic conditions along the
Outer Banks. For real-time travel information at any time, call 511,
visit www.ncdot.gov/travel or follow NCDOT on Twitter at www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter/.
than the four-wheel-drive route, access to Hatteras is only by
emergency ferry between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe or by sound ferries
from Swan Quarter or Cedar Island to Ocracoke and then the Hatteras
Inlet ferry from Ocracoke to Hatteras Island.
schedules can be found at the end of this article. Sound ferries
require a reservation. The Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry is running only
every two hours instead of every hour.
- Travel by ferry is available to residents, visitors, and supply and repair trucks.
- Supply trucks have priority at all times, and Hatteras residents have priority Monday through Friday.
waits have been long – hours at times -- on the emergency ferry, which
takes at least two hours to cross the sound. You are advised to
arrive early and be patient. You might also consider bringing water,
coffee, soft drinks, and snacks.
Emergency ferry schedule
The emergency ferry is open to everyone, including visitors.
wishing to use the emergency route are reminded to expect waits and to
be patient, as priority status is still in effect. Repair and supply
trucks have priority at all times. Dare County residents have priority
Monday through Friday.
The Stumpy Point-Rodanthe schedule is:
- Departing Stumpy Point: 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., 8 p.m., and 10 p.m.
- Departing Rodanthe: 7 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m, 7 p.m., 9 p.m., 11 p.m.
Ferry information is available by calling 800-293-3779 (BY-FERRY) and pressing 1, or via Twitter at www.twitter.com/ncdot_ferry.
to the Stumpy Point Emergency Ferry Dock at 100 Log Storage Road, off
Highway 264: Take Highway 64 to Highway 264. Follow Highway
264 approximately 13 miles past the entrance to the village of Stumpy
Point. Signs for emergency ferry service are posted to ferry
entrance that will be on your left.
Directions to the
Rodanthe Emergency Ferry Dock at 23170 Myrna Peters Road,
Rodanthe: Turn west off Highway 12 onto Myrna Peters Road, which
is located just north of the Community Building in Rodanthe.
Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry schedule
Visitors can now enter Hatteras Island via the Hatteras Inlet ferry. The ferry is still running every two hours.
The Hatteras-Ocracoke schedule is:
visitors wishing to come to Hatteras through Ocracoke, keep in mind
that travel from Cedar Island to Ocracoke and Swan Quarter to Ocracoke
requires a reservation by calling 1-800-293-3779.
- Departing Hatteras at 6 a.m., 8, 10, noon, 2 p.m., 4, 6, 8, 10 and midnight; and
- Departing Ocracoke at 5 a.m., 7, 9, 11, 1 p.m., 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11.
Swan Quarter and Cedar Island ferries
schedules and reservations on the ferries from the mainland to
Ocracoke, go to the N.C. Ferry Division website at
http://www.ncdot.gov/ferry/. The Ferry Division has been adding extra
departures to and from Swan Quarter on the weekends.
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