Raleigh - Today, Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for N.C. 12 in Dare County that will help the N.C. Department of Transportation move ahead with a short-term solution to protect the critical coastal highway from frequent ocean overwash caused by high winds and strong surf.
The declaration comes at the recommendation of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata, following a visit and town hall meeting along the Outer Banks last week. The governor and secretary surveyed the area and talked with residents about having a more reliable route between Hatteras Island and the mainland.
“The people there have real concerns about the road they depend on to get to work, school or medical appointments,” said Governor McCrory. “They need a highway that is not forced to close every time a storm approaches. By declaring a State of Emergency, NCDOT can fast-track work to rebuild the beach along the S-Curves, so we can keep the road open until a long-term solution is in place.”
A series of storms, including Hurricane Sandy last fall, resulted in severe beach erosion along N.C. 12 at the S-Curves.
NCDOT has already executed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to nourish the beach along the S-Curves. NCDOT is currently working closely with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to swiftly acquire the permit needed to conduct the work. The target date to begin beach nourishment is mid-to-late spring.
NCDOT has also acquired $20.8 million in Hurricane Sandy emergency response funding from the Federal Highway Administration to pay for the beach nourishment. The one-time emergency response effort will fortify the section of N.C. 12 most often threatened by powerful winds for three years by which time a permanent solution should be built.
“We know this work can’t wait. N.C. 12 is an important pipeline for visitors who have a major impact on the local and statewide economy.” Secretary Tata said. “We want to ensure residents get the help they need now as we continue to look for innovative and strategic ways to make a lasting impact.”
At this time, NCDOT is considering two long-term solutions for the S-Curves, a roughly one-mile section of N.C. 12 just north of Mirlo Beach. They include a bridge within the existing easement and a 2.5-mile bridge that extends into the Pamlico Sound. The department will hold public meetings about the options this summer and plans to award a contract for construction this fall.
In early March, strong winds pummeled the Outer Banks, causing significant overwash at the S-Curves and forcing the road to close on and off temporarily for more than a week. NCDOT crews have reopened the road and are now in the process of replacing the sand that blew off the sandbags installed after Hurricane Sandy last year.
To hear why NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata thinks short- and long-term plans for N.C. 12 are important, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhK6VsnCttM&feature=youtu.be
For more information about N.C. 12, visit www.ncdot.gov/nc12, go to the N.C. 12 Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ncdot or follow the N.C. 12 Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/ncdot_nc12.
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