Outer Banks, N.C.–Drivers on the Outer Banks would love to have stop-and-go traffic. Then there’d at least be a “go” involved.
Wednesday’s storm washed out Route 12, during low tide Monday they had a three and a half hour window to go over the Bonner Bridge, once the tide came back they wouldn’t go anywhere.
“Hatteras Island is slowly getting choked to death by the road situation. There’s nothing but talk, and talk, and there’s nothing really being done. They’re just putting band aids on a major problem and it really needs to be addressed now, not down the road,” said Pat Wolfe, who lives in Waves.
Hurricane Irene ate up Route 12, carving inlets where there used to be dunes.
A temporary bridge was built within seven weeks, but this won’t last forever.
“I think the ocean is bound and determined to come across this island and certain places, and I think they’re going to need causeways, or bridges or something to address the issues,” Wolfe said.
North Carolina’s Department of Transportation hosted the first of a series of meetings on its long term plan for Route 12.
It’s calling for a 98 million dollar bridge that would be 2.2 miles long and should last more than 50 years, as Hatteras’ coast line continues to erode.
“We fully expect that there’s the potential that there may be ocean underneath that bridge so we’re building the bridge to prepare for that fact,” Dara Demi with NCDOT said.
NCDOT hopes to get the green light for the project, and they could have it contracted out by this summer.
Until the work is done, Route 12 is unreliable with drivers lining up to be escorted 20 miles back to Rodanthe and beyond; Sand and water covers much of the road.
“But it’s a little scary when it can only be opened a few hours a day. So we’re hoping they can get it worked out before the rental season,” said Sue Arnold, who’s from Cleveland but owns a home on Hatteras Island.