First piling driven in Rodanthe for the N.C. 12 Jug Handle Bridge

By on September 8, 2018

Computer simulation of how the bridge will look. (NCDOT)

The first piling has been driven into the ground in Rodanthe for the 2.4-mile Jug Handle Bridge that will eventually reroute N.C. 12 around an area that has been repeatedly washed out.

NCDOT Public Relations Officer Tim Haas confirmed construction crews began driving the first trestle pile around midday Thursday for the land-based portions of the bridge before continuing out into the open water. Based on the current schedule, the bridge is expected to open to traffic by late 2020.

The Jug Handle Bridge will stretch from the southern portion of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge to northern Rodanthe and will bypass the S-Turns section of N.C. Highway 12, which is highly susceptible to breaches during storms.

The bridge earned its “jug handle” moniker from its distinctive shape that juts out into the Pamlico Sound before reconnecting with N.C. 12 north of Rodanthe.

This design — which is also referred to as the preferred alternative — minimizes the impact to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, the ocean shoreline and the community of Rodanthe while maintaining safe and reliable access, according to NCDOT.

NCDOT will also build a one-lane roundabout, as opposed to a traditional “T” type intersection at the end of the existing N.C. 12, and by the relocated N.C. 12 near the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. The concept was developed to provide a safer intersection with less potential conflict points — areas where drivers are crossing, merging or leaving a road.

Traffic will be maintained on N.C. 12 while the new bridge is being built, and once construction is complete, the existing roadway in the refuge will be removed, while the existing section of N.C 12 in Rodanthe will remain open to provide access to private properties.

The Jug Handle Bridge – along with the Captain Richard Etheridge Bridge on Pea Island, which was completed in the spring of 2018 – is considered part of Phase II of the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project.

The Island Free Press contributed to this report.


  • surf123

    I was on my bike on Thursday afternoon and it is a very loud operation. It can be heard from Lisa’s Pizza northward. Residents and renters north of Lisa’s, especially anyone in the vicinity of Island Convenience are in for a loud winter, spring and summer. Anyone renting houses in those areas should regroup for a more southerly house.

    Saturday, Sep 8 @ 10:43 pm
  • Steve

    The beginning of the end of Pea Island access. Such a shame and a sham.

    Sunday, Sep 9 @ 5:36 am
  • Willy c

    They should call it the jug head bridge because it took a bunch of jug heads to design it

    Sunday, Sep 9 @ 5:59 am
  • Noah

    You are going to need a hump for the new inlet

    Sunday, Sep 9 @ 10:33 am
  • Arthur Pewty

    I hope they finally put that concrete plant on the old Dare Building site in to full time operation. That would be sweet.

    Sunday, Sep 9 @ 6:23 pm
  • charlie

    Hmmm? Channels and dredging have been fought because they will impact the grasses on the sound bottom. But it is OK to drive the pilings and do the same thing? I guess it depends on where you sit on the environmental spectrum.

    Monday, Sep 10 @ 5:21 am
  • Paul

    What a shame… they need to leave the road for Pea Island Access. It’s beautiful there.
    With the new bridge and the deconstruction of the road, are they going to cut an inlet or something? It seems like theres more to this than they are letting on….

    Monday, Sep 10 @ 8:41 am
  • Dave M.

    It is very apparent that the residents of the OBX were ignored when it came to this bridge project. The north end of jug handle looks like it is
    In a very fragile location. It would not surprise me if that area washed out at some point. I really see no reason at all for removing the roadway north of Rodanthe.
    My house is on Corbina Dr W. I heard the pile driver in operation and it was not that annoying or loud from there.
    The needs and wants of residents of the OBX are largely ignored in favor of birds, turtles and now sea grass. Sad state of affairs.

    Wednesday, Sep 12 @ 8:18 am
  • Adria

    Willy, that is the perfect name! Thanks to beach nourishment, the S-Curves portion of 12 is intact and clear through the storms surrounding Florence so far. Other sections of 12, south of where the jug head bridge will make landfall, are washed out and flooded. I guess there will be clear access or Rodanthe to Nags Head?

    It also looks like the bridge will be so close to the water (basically like an elevated roadway) that it will block boaters from accessing the Pea Island area from the Sound (I am sure this is the intent). Likewise, access to the Sound beyond the bridge will be blocked from residences in Rodanthe and Mirlo… It does not appear a kayak could fit underneath.

    Saturdays are going to be worse than ever. The bridge is 2 lanes and curved, so there will likely be no passing on the bridge. If there is an accident? Then there is a single lane roundabout that cannot be any larger or it impacts wetlands. While I am sure there are very skilled truck drivers, the best of them will not be taking the round about at greater than 15 MPH and what about all the vacationers in their rarely-driven buses, campers and 5th wheels? Since this jug head bridge is directly in front of my house on Pappy Lane, I plan to spend my Saturdays watching the traffic pile up.

    The pyle driving noise was incredible. From as far as Corbina the sound was recorded at over 100 decibels. OSHA limits workplace noise to 90 decibels. Our neighbor has a baby that could not nap… I feel horrible for the residents and all of the families that have saved up money for years to take vacations in the Rodanthe area. They are going to be very disappointed.

    Shame on NCDOT

    Friday, Sep 14 @ 9:03 am