DOT Explains Plans for Rodanthe Breach

Reprinted from the Outer Banks Voice

MANTEO — The N.C. Department of Transportation road show made its third and final stop here last week to explain what it intends to do about the battered section of N.C. 12 near Rodanthe on Hatteras Island.

The plan contemplates one of two bridge alternatives to elevate the road above a “hot spot” just north of Mirlo Beach that has been subject to severe erosion and ocean overwash, even in relatively mild storms.

DOT’s preferred method of fixing the breach at Rodanthe is a 2.3-mile-long bridge and about a quarter-mile of land-based improvements that would follow the current path of N.C. 12 from just south of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge southern boundary to a point where the Liberty Service Station in Rodanthe is located. Dot estimates the cost at $187.5 million and $215.5 million.

The second option includes a 2.6-mile-long bridge and three miles of improvements that would be built in the Pamlico Sound, west of the current road. Cost: $203.3 to $215.5 million.

Both would involve the relocation of a few houses and businesses, including the Liberty Service Station, an important year-round business for residents of the Rodanthe-Salvo-Waves communities.

The photo shows the two options DOT is considering to fix the breach at Rodanthe. Photo: NCDOT

In addition, both options would obstruct views, either to the ocean or the sound near the terminal point in Rodanthe.  The road in Pamlico Sound might also affect recreation, fisheries and vegetation in the sound.

Some property owners in Mirlo Beach have recently expressed opposition to both options and have endorsed retaining the current route of N.C. 12 and using beach re-nourishment to protect the troubled road.

Brad Payne, a Rodanthe property owner, said both bridge options “are going to be absolutely detrimental to our community, to a portion of our livelihoods, rental homes and I think it will have a tremendous impact on tourism.”

In addition forcing the relocation of several businesses, the preferred option uses one-way service roads and turning areas running north and south, parallel to the bridge for properties to be accessed, some residents said.

Warren Judge, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, asked the DOT representatives to take into consideration the concerns of Rodanthe residents and suggested that the agency partner with the county to nourish some of the beach and perhaps shorten the improvements to save the Liberty Service Station and avoid view issues.

The Rodanthe projects are part of the larger plans to replace the Herbert C. Bonner Bride over Oregon Inlet and a temporary bridge in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge that spans an inlet opened by Hurricane Irene in 2011.

A contract to build the Bonner Bridge replacement was awarded in July 2011. The contract for the Pea Island bridge was awarded in November 2013.

Earlier in January, DOT held other public hearings on the Rodanthe projects in Ocracoke Island and on Hatteras Island.

DOT will accept public comments until Jan. 24. Comments can be mailed, faxed or emailed to: Drew Joyner, NCDOT-Human Environment Section, 1598 Mail Service Rd., Raleigh 27699-1598. You can also email comments or fax them to 919-212-5785.

About the Author

Russ Lay

Russ Lay is co-owner of the Outer Banks Voice, a digital newspaper. A Virginia native and former banker, Russ also is a licensed mortgage broker and teaches political science and international studies a College of The Albemarle. He and his wife, Rose, live in Nags Head with two cats. They enjoy the beach, surf fishing, bird watching and travel. Russ is also a fan of good wines and cigars, political journals, music, electronic gadgets, shortwave radio, South Park, and The Onion Web site.