NC12 Task Force tackles a thorny problem — keeping the road viable

By on August 11, 2021

(NC 12 Task Force)

At the third meeting of the NC 12 Task Force, held on Aug. 11 at the Dare County Administrative Building, the complexity of maintaining NC12 on Hatteras Island was the focus of attention.

As stakeholders discussed confronting the challenges of the road now and in the future, two concerns in particular emerged: the cost of a bridge over the seven “hotspots” that have been identified as well as environmental concerns. There was consensus, though, that the S-Curves, which are listed as a hotspot, will be resolved when the Jug Handle Bridge opens next year.

Nonetheless, the rate of erosion in the six remaining areas highlighted the urgency of tackling the issue. Dr. Reide Corbett, Dean of the ECU Coastal Studies Institute Campus, briefed the Task Force on the how quickly the shoreline is retreating in the remaining hotspots.

The greatest retreat, he noted, was located at the Pea Island Visitors Center— 4.8 meters/year — and in Avon at 4.9 meters/year. The least was in Buxton where Dare County funded a beach nourishment project. The county will be nourishing the beach in Avon as well.

The Wednesday meeting focused on the first of the hotspots, the Canal Zone just south of the Basnight Bridge. Although the rate of erosion in the Canal Zone is not as high as other areas (2.5 meters/year by the year 2030), NC12 in that area would be threatened.

With the discussion focusing on short-term and long-term solutions, the cost of building a bridge in Pamlico Sound emerged. To provide some basis for computing that, Win Bridgers, NCDOT Deputy Division Engineer, provided figures for the Jug Handle Bridge project.

“The bridge at Rodanthe is 2.46 miles long, $154 million,” he said. Using that figure, he extrapolated the cost of a bridge in the sound. “Just so you know, if you say, ‘Oh let’s build a bridge like Rodanthe,’ it’s $74 million per mile. That gives you some idea of magnitude.”

Bridgers was asked about the cost of a bridge-in-place, a bridge using the existing right of way and not going into the sound.  “Obviously it would be less,” he said, noting the Richard Etheridge Bridge’s estimated $20 million per mile price tag.

It became apparent during the discussion, however, that a bridge-in-place would not address the long-term issues confronting NC12. Although the upfront costs of a series of bridges-in-place would be considerably less than a longer bridge in the sound, there would be a series of ongoing construction projects needed to keep the road open.

Corbett also pointed out that if a bridge-in-place was built, shoreline retreat was happening on the soundside as well as along the ocean shore — raising the possibility that losing the roadbed or damaging the bridge exists from the ocean and the waters of the sound.

And there was consensus that the idea of a 17.2-mile bridge bypassing Pea Island and connecting the Basnight Bridge and Rodanthe with a $1 billion price tag was an impractical solution, even though it was possible that over time, the same amount of money would be used for a series of shorter interconnecting bridges.

There was also discussion about permitting a bridge constructed in Pamlico Sound, but concerns were raised about how to minimize the impact of the bridge and construction on subaquatic vegetation (SAV), one of the primary food sources for migratory waterfowl.

And the subject of beach nourishment as a means to preserve the roadway also arose. As a temporary measure to give a permanent solution time to be constructed, the National Park Service has permitted beach nourishment in the past.

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Comments

  • Ann broadhead

    Thank you to Kitty Hawk Kites that give free employee housing to their employees.
    Perhaps a condos being build on the be should have in their building permit a requirement that X number of units be provided to Dare county for summer employees,at low cost or provided as a county purchase or lease at very low cost to be passed on to

    Thursday, Aug 12 @ 1:52 am
  • Bud

    It’s the dune lines that cause erosion, proven by every storm event and the ACOE, Army Corp.

    Thursday, Aug 12 @ 4:53 am
  • Peaches

    Ann, what exactly does your comment have to do with the article?

    Most of the southern beach residents hate the northern beaches… let the road wash away and they can all take existing ferries to the mainland.

    Thursday, Aug 12 @ 10:11 am
  • Jude Brown

    Bud, you are correct. That’s what the old timers on Ocracoke always said. “The ocean washed over, the ocean went back”. And to Ann. That is called socialism. Look it up.

    Thursday, Aug 12 @ 1:03 pm
  • Zack Bass

    I seem to recall years ago there was much controversy over Long vs Short Bridge. The then- Dare County Commissioners opposed the long bridge because they were afraid that access to Pea Island would be cut off. So they went whimpering to Senator Pro Tem Marc Basnight, who, being a very powerful man at the time, got the long bridge option nixed.

    Thursday, Aug 12 @ 5:19 pm
  • Jesse

    Don’t forget the county just approved a soundside event center by the Tourism Board. They’re spending millions so they can have an estimated $312,000 annual deficit. When the county meets to discuss everyone’s self-righteous concepts please be skeptical of their intentions or ability to understand what they are proposing. Group of men, mostly, wearing dockers, boat shoes, polo shirts tossing ideas around without knowledge. If you need to justify skepticism look at the size of our county buildings in manteo. Larger than anything you’ll see in most of the US.
    Be skeptic.
    The things they are proposing to do will change our county forever. Apparently we don’t generate enough revenue for the egos involved and soon enough there won’t be an off season.

    Thursday, Aug 12 @ 5:52 pm
  • Tri-Village

    Bud and Jude are absolutely correct. I also believe this problem grew exponentially when the jetty was put in on the south side of Oregon Inlet. In my lifetime I have seen houses fall in and roads disappear . Disrupting the natural flow has caused more harm than good. Peaches, most southern beach residents do not hate the northern beaches. We just didn’t want Hatteras Island to become like Corolla. Sadly parts of it has. Ann, I don’t even know what to say. I mean I do but it won’t get posted

    Thursday, Aug 12 @ 6:13 pm
  • Freenusa

    Correct, that’s why houses had trapdoors, to let the flood tide drain from their homes. The sand dunes, as well as overbuilding are not beneficial to the obx but it’s our future.

    Thursday, Aug 12 @ 9:50 pm
  • Zack Bass

    All this hand-wringing over a strip of sand. Mother Ocean will step in one day and eliminate the “problem”.

    Friday, Aug 13 @ 5:34 pm
  • Francois Guignard

    @jude brown. And the roads (such as NC12) or the bridges (such as the ones being built) onto which you drive, what do you call that? Capitalism? Nope socialism. The schools? Yes, socialism. The police, the army… funded by taxpayers? Yep, socialism again. Do you go to Ocracoke? Free ferry? What does that say to you? Capitalism? The list goes on and on. Look it up. So please don’t make such a display of your ignorance, people like you are an embarrassment for the rest of the country.
    So let’s build more bridges on taxpayers money.

    Saturday, Aug 14 @ 5:29 pm
  • WindyBill

    For the future it is time to consider passenger catamarans, like Okracoke, with small rental something vehicles ( ‘golf’ carts?) at each house. There are people who would Really appreciate that kind of OBX.

    Sunday, Aug 15 @ 1:15 pm