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Ocracoke Bulkhead Construction to Begin

An emergency bulkhead will be built along here to try to stop further erosion. Photo: Connie Leinbach

Reprinted from the Ocracoke Observer

OCRACOKE — The North Carolina Department of Transportation will begin construction of a bulkhead at the north end ferry terminal, known as the South Dock, later this month.

According to Tim Hass, spokesman for the North Carolina Ferry Division, work is scheduled to begin July 22 on the emergency project to protect the South Dock ferry basin and vehicle stacking lanes from further shoreline erosion.

In the last few years, the north end of the island has sustained erosion from overwash from numerous nor’easters and hurricanes.

A big chunk of N.C. 12 has fallen into the sound from the overwash, making the stacking lanes unusable. Ferry workers have relocated the ferry stacking lanes farther south on the highway.

NCDOT in June awarded a $1.9 million contract to Carolina Bridge of Orangeburg, South Carolina, for construction of a 1,000-foot bulkhead on the north end of Ocracoke Island to help slow the erosion.

This graphic shows where the bulkhead will be installed. It also shows the extent this area has eroded as the bulkhead line is now where the island ends. Graphic courtesy of the N.C. Ferry Division

State Ferry Division Deputy Director Jed Dixon, speaking at the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association meeting Wednesday night, said the contractor will install the metal bulkhead around the point and will end at the midpoint of the ferry stacking lanes.

The work is expected to be completed in October, Dixon said.

Dixon said that the Coastal Area Management Act, or CAMA, does not allow hard structures to extend into the ocean.

So, at the point where the bulkhead will end, three legs of rip rap, or groins, will be installed perpendicularly into the inlet to try to catch sediment and slow the shoreline erosion, said Justin LeBlanc, who is on the Ocracoke Waterways Commission and the business association’s board of directors.

“Sandbags didn’t work,” Dixon said. That’s when the DOT was able to pull the emergency permit from CAMA for the remedial action.

The groin part of the project is in the planning and permitting stages and the National Park Service is accepting public comments on that portion of the project. Comments can be made online.

With additional materials for the project, the total cost will be $4 million.

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This story is provided courtesy of the Ocracoke Observer, a newspaper covering Ocracoke island. Coastal Review Online is partnering with the Ocracoke Observer to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest along our coast.

About the Author

Connie Leinbach

Connie Leinbach lives on Ocracoke and writes for the "Island Free Press."