By Rob Morris on October 5, 2011Closed for repairs since the end of August after Hurricane Irene opened one inlet and several smaller breaches, N.C. 12 will reopen no later than Tuesday, Oct. 11, the North Carolina Department of Transportation said Wednesday.
The basic structure of the bridge over the inlet in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is complete and crews worked overnight to install deck panels and lower the north end onto permanent supports.
Still to be done is putting deck panels on the south end and lowering it onto supports, NCDOT said. The bridge also needs to be anchored in place.
“Our hope is to open before then, but right now we are confident work will be complete on or before the 11th,” resident engineer Pablo Hernandez said in a statement. “We will open the road earlier if we can.”
Crews have also completed the asphalt base for the road at Mirlo Beach.
Since the storm, the only access to Hatteras Island has been by ferry. An emergency route was opened between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe.
When tourists were allowed back into the southern villages, they were required to make reservations from the mainland and travel through Ocracoke.
Dare County manager Bobby Outten told the Island Free Press that although the county has not yet made an official decision, it is his belief that if the highway reopens before Oct. 11 that the tri-villages would reopen to visitors at the same time.
“When the road is open, we will no longer have a basis for a state of emergency,” he told the Free Press.
He also noted that the emergency ferries will probably stop running when N.C. 12 opens.