Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Parade Love for the Temporary Bridge!

NC 12 Update for 12/15/11

NC 12 Update for 12/15/11

The N.C. Department of Transportation met today with representatives of state and federal agencies to discuss which design options NCDOT should continue to study as viable, long-term solutions for the N.C. 12 breaches on Pea Island and in Rodanthe. The group, called the Merger Team, reached a general consensus to narrow down the options at both breaches.

“There are laws and regulations associated with some of the options that we are not likely to be able to meet,” said NCDOT Chief Operating Officer Jim Trogdon. “By focusing our efforts on the most realistic options, we can more efficiently develop long-term fixes for N.C. 12 that will provide a reliable way for people to get to jobs and education.”

At the Pea Island breach, the general consensus reached by the Merger Team includes eliminating the beach nourishment option, as well as the options to build a new road or bridge west of where N.C. 12 is currently. The remaining option would allow NCDOT to build a bridge where the road now stands.

At the Rodanthe breach, the Merger Team generally agreed to eliminate the beach nourishment option. The remaining options include building a bridge within the easement and building a bridge that would extend into the Pamlico Sound.

NCDOT also agreed to work on another potential option suggested by representatives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. At this time, the idea, which involves bridging from north of the Pea Island breach through the Pamlico Sound to Rodanthe, is conceptual in nature, and NCDOT will meet with USFWS in the coming days to more concretely map it out.

The Merger Team must sign a form officially agreeing to narrow the existing options and allow for the inclusion of any new options before the process can go forward. The group expects that to happen within the coming weeks.

Monday, December 5, 2011

We've started  the first of three public workshops on long-term solutions to NC12!
Here are the details:

NCDOT will begin on Dec. 5 the first of three public workshops dedicated to developing long-term solutions for the breaches caused by Hurricane Irene on the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and in Rodanthe in August. This process is considered Phase II of the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project.
At the meetings, NCDOT will present to citizens the four design options currently under consideration to fix each breach. An explanation and map of each option are listed below.

Pea Island Breach Design Options
  • Beach nourishment - A beach nourishment option would leave N.C. 12 in its current location. You can see the area proposed for beach nourishment, as well as some additional dunes, on this map.
  • Road on new location – This option would move the road to the west of where NCDOT thinks the shoreline will be by 2060. See it on this map.
  • Bridge on new location – This option would move N.C. 12 onto a bridge to the west of its current location. This area is west of where NCDOT thinks the shoreline will be by 2060. Click to see the map.
  • Bridge within easement – This option would elevate N.C. 12 onto a bridge within the existing easement, next to the temporary bridge. To see it on the map, click here.
Rodanthe Breach Design Options
  • Beach nourishment - The beach nourishment option would leave N.C. 12 where it is now. It also includes the construction and maintenance of high dunes north of Mirlo Beach. Click to see it on the map.
  • Bridge within easement with beach nourishment – This option would elevate N.C. 12 onto a bridge within the existing easement. It would end just south of the refuge border and include a short section of beach nourishment to protect the roadway in Mirlo Beach and Rodanthe. See it on this map.
  • Bridge within easement - This option would also elevate N.C. 12 onto a bridge within the existing easement. It would end just north of the community center and not require beach nourishment. Click to see it on the map.
  • Bridge in Pamlico Sound - This option would construct an approximately 2.5-mile bridge that would extend into the Pamlico Sound and connect back to Rodanthe just north of the Historic District. See the map here for more detail.
Citizens are welcome to ask questions and share their thoughts about these options at the upcoming public workshops:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Workshops Slated to Discuss Design Options

Mark Dec.5 and Dec. 6 down on your calendars.  We're holding two workshops expressly to discuss the options for permanently fixing the breaches on N.C. 12 on Pea Island and Rodanthe caused by Hurricane Irene.
We need your feedback on the ideas and we'll use it to figure out the best long-term solution for each breach.
Here are the specifics on the meetings:
  • Monday, Dec. 5, from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
    Dare County Administration Building
    954 Marshall C. Collins Dr.

  • View Larger Map

  • Tuesday, Dec. 6, from 4 p.m.-7 p.m.
    Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center
    23186 Myrna Peters Rd. 

  • View Larger Map
Drop in any time between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.. NCDOT representatives will be there to explain the design options and answer any questions. Share your ideas, thoughts and suggestions with us!

New Aerials!

We love it when our photogrammetry guys go flying!

These were taken of the S-curves near Rodanthe (above) and the temporary bridge (below) yesterday, from 3,600 feet above ground.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Ferry on Board!

Yesterday, we cracked a ceremonial bottle of champagne over the bow of the Sound Class Motor Vessel Swan Quarter, the newest addition to the NC Ferry fleet.

Here are some fun ferry facts about this cruiser:

  • It's 220-feet long;
  • Carries 50 vehicles and 300 passengers on the Pamlico Sound routes from Swan Quarter and Cedar Island to Ocracoke;
  • Delivered to the shipyard in Manns Harbor in late October 2011;
  • The new vessel meets the Americans With Disabilities Act by featuring an ADA-compliant elevator;
  • Moves 25 percent faster than existing Sound Class boats; 
  • Meets Environmental Protection Agency standards for diesel emissions; 
  • Is the first of two sister ships that will join the division’s existing four Sound Class ferries;
  • Continues the tradition of ferries being affiliated with state universities by showing the Elon University colors and logo.

During the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the Swan Quarter and Cedar Island routes carried more than 91,000 vehicles and 217,000 passengers between Ocracoke.

The new vessel will go into service as soon as it receives its Certificate of Inspection from the U. S. Coast Guard.

See more photos.

Thanks, Albemarle RPO!

Our partners at the Albemarle posted this photo of NC 12 today on their Facebook page!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Experts Give Guidance on Permanent Solution for N.C. 12

We're moving forward to develop a permanent solution for the breaches of N.C. 12 on Pea Island and Rodanthe.

Last month, NCDOT and the Federal Highway Administration met in Raleigh with a panel of experts in the fields of coastal science and engineering. They offered insight on three main topics:

  • The extent of the damage to N.C. 12 from Hurricane Irene and how it was different than the destruction caused by past storms;

  • Options for long-term fixes for the breach sites on Pea Island and Rodanthe, and the extent of the work those possibilities would entail; and

  • Points to consider with the coastal monitoring program, which is what NCDOT actively uses to collect data to determine what type of improvements are needed on N.C. 12 from south of the Bonner Bridge to Rodanthe and when that work will occur. It is through this program that NCDOT will decide what additional long-term fixes are needed for N.C. 12 beyond the repairs at the two breaches.

NCDOT will analyze the information discussed by the panel, as well as the input provided by the Interagency Leadership Team and the Merger Team at an Oct. 18 meeting, when developing design options to take to the public in December. The Merger Team will consider comments from citizens when making its final decision on what the permanent solution will be in January 2012.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Flower Power! Seeds for Salvo

Lance leaved Coreopsis
NCDOT is  proud to be teaming up with local master gardeners on the Outer Banks to help bring back plants and flowers on Hatteras Island that were destroyed by Hurricane Irene.

One of our most popular and nationally-recognized highway beautification efforts is our wildflower program. It began in 1985 and has become an integral part of what we do to make our highways  more attractive. Wildflower beds are installed and maintained across the state by NCDOT's Roadside Environmental personnel in each of the fourteen highway divisions.

We're taking some of our seed stock, plus some trees and donating it to the Seeds for Salvo initiative -local master gardeners are sharing seeds from their own gardens to help replace batters plants and flowers on the island.

We talked with Derek Smith, who heads up our wildflower program to get the 4-1-1 on what NCDOT is contributing.

NCDOT donated: 
We donated these specific species because: 
  • They are North Carolina natives 
  • They are seasonally appropriate - they are meant to be planted in the fall 
  • They are low-maintenance 
Planting/maintenance tips: These plants were chosen partly because they are fairly self-sustaining once established. Just plant them in the fall, and you don’t even have to water them! The sumac will take a few years to mature. The wildflowers should bloom in the spring. The frost this winter will burn the top greenery off the daylilies, but the root mass will stay underground; b/c these plants are perennials they will come back year after year.

Is this something we typically do after storms or disasters? Smith can’t remember NCDOT doing this type of donation before. It's the result of a special request which came down from Clair Sutton, Dare Master Gardener alumni, in conjunction with Sen. Stan White’s office. Homeowners, businesses and the local Garden Club will plant NCDOT’s donations around Dare County.

The seeds will be available at The Boathouse Food Pantry in Salvo on Sunday, Wednesday, or Friday, from 9 a.m. until 12 noon until all are taken.

For more info, contract Clair Sutton in Kitty Hawk at

Outer Banks Sentinel story

NCDOT Wildflower Index

Monday, October 24, 2011

Power to Pea

Cape Hatteras Electric Coop has begun receiving materials to construct a permanent transmission line at the Pea Island breach.

Check out the Facebook page...

Friday, October 21, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Permanent Solutions

NCDOT staff and partners met today to begin work on the long-term solutions for the section of N.C. 12 hard-hit by Hurricane Irene.

You can read more here about the session, but here are some of the options discussed:
For fixing the largest Pea Island breach:
  • Beach renourishment;

  • Constructing a bridge within the existing easement; and

  • Building a bridge or road on a new location.

For fixing problems areas near Rodanthe:
  • Beach renourishment;

  • Building a bridge where the road now stands; and

  • Constructing a bridge or road on a new location.

Some of the next steps in the overall process:
  • Holding a panel discussion with experts in the fields of coastal science and engineering to learn about the changes in conditions along N.C. 12 resulting from Hurricane Irene, identify issues and constraints associated with future maintenance of the highway, and provide engineering advice on design parameters for long-term solutions at the two breach sites;

  • Hosting public meetings to formally present the options to citizens, gather their input and answer their questions;

  • Providing all feedback to the Merger Team and securing support to begin the permitting process; and

  • Presenting a realistic, fundable, buildable design plan to Gov. Perdue.

The process to develop permanent solutions for the two breaches on N.C. 12 is a continuation of work already under way as part of the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project. Phase one of the project involves replacing the 2.7-mile bridge over Oregon Inlet, which is currently in the design stage. The project also includes an active coastal monitoring program that uses scientific data to determine what types of improvements are needed on N.C. 12 between Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and Rodanthe and when that work will occur. Using this program, NCDOT will enact phase two of the project, which will permanently fix the areas damaged by Hurricane Irene.

News Bits

A couple of things of note: there's a new deadline for applying for aid after Irene - Nov. 30

And - NCDMV's  mobile office will be back on Hatteras tomorrow and Friday.

Monday, October 17, 2011

NCDOT Now Takes a Ride on the Temporary Bridge!

This week's edition of NCDOT Now, the department's weekly video news update, is now available.

It takes you across the temporary bridge crews built over the largest breach of N.C. 12 on Pea Island caused by Hurricane Irene and shows the paving work done to reopen the highway to traffic as quickly as possible.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Now What?

Now that the temporary bridge is done and N.C. 12 is open all the way down Hatteras, what happens next? Stay tuned to this blog, and on Twitter @NCDOT_NC12 for updates and info on the next phase of the post-Hurricane Irene era for this iconic roadway.  In the meantime, we'll try to keep you updated on other events and news happening in and around the area.  Feel free to send us suggestions for how you'd like us to stay in touch!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It's next Tuesday!

Or maybe sooner!

N.C. 12 Update 10/05/2011 

 The N.C. Department of Transportation will reopen N.C. 12 no later than Tuesday, Oct. 11 after the road has been closed due to the damage caused by Hurricane Irene in August.

 “Our hope is to open before then, but right now we are confident work will be complete on or before the 11th”, said resident engineer Pablo Hernandez.  “We will open to road earlier if we can.”

 At the Rodanthe breach area, crews completed paving the asphalt base for the road patches south of the mid Pea Island breach and began grading the sand for the roadway embankment leading to the southern end of the bridge.

At the temporary bridge location on Pea Island, crews worked all night and into the early hours to set deck panels at the north end of the bridge after it was completely lowered onto the permanent bridge bearing supports.

The southern half of the bridge is in the process of being lowered onto the bearing supports. Crews still need to install six of the 12 bridge bearing supports, anchor the bridge in place and finish installing deck panels; however, the following items are complete at the temporary bridge location:

Piling: all 82 piles driven.
Sheet Piling Bulkhead: all 726 linear feet installed.
Concrete Footings: all 12 footings poured.
Bridge Truss Spans: all 662 linear feet placed.

Night Moves

The N.C. 12 temporary bridge crews worked all through the night and into the morning, lowering the north half of the bridge onto its permanent bearing supports, and setting deck panels, among other things.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jack Under the Wood

This photo came in with this morning's batch from the site of the temporary bridge on NC12 and out of context it might look a little strange, if not precarious:

So, what's going on here?
      Yesterday, our crews installed hydraulic jacks underneath the bridge truss and began lifting it in order to remove the temporary roller bearings used to extend the bridge across the breach.  The jacks will also be used to lower the bridge onto the permanent bearings.  This is a very delicate procedure where the bridge is alternately supported on wood blocks and lowered with the jacks approximately  four to six inches at a time.  Eventually, the bridge will be lowered approximately two to five feet, depending on the location along the bridge alignment. 

      This week's NCDOT Now features video of the work on NC 12:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Herons and Cranes

More Milestones!

Over the weekend, crews checked off several key components of the temporary bridge installation over the breach on Pea Island, as you can see from the graphs at right.

There's still a considerable amount to go, however.  On the bridge, crews still need to install the bearing supports, lower and anchor the bridge in place, and install deck panels.

As we have been saying, completion of the bridge does not mean N.C. 12 can be reopened.  Paving must be completed around the bridge and the work on the portions of the highway near Rodanthe also must be finished. When that's completed, then N.C. 12 can be opened to traffic.  Unfortunately, the work that must be done now would be the most effected by bad weather of everything we've done so far.  So that's why we just can't name a specific date as to when the highway will be reopened.  Katia, and a Nor'easter have brought a significant amount of rain to the site, and extra crews were called in to keep things on track. Best we can say at this point is still early-mid October.

Folks have been asking us about Oct. 6 - that refers to Dare County's re-entry plan for Waves, Rodanthe and Salvo - NOT the reopening of N.C.12.  Here's the county's release on re-entry to those areas of Hatteras Island.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Project Checklist

Over the course of the last few weeks, we've posted graphs of how much progress we've made on key parts of the installation of the temporary bridge at Pea Island. But, as you know, there's more to getting NC 12 open to traffic than just completing the bridge. And much of what's left to do depends very much on the weather cooperating. We're still estimating that the road could be fully reopened sometime in early October.

Here's our main punch list:  

 Pea Island Bridge
  • Place concrete for 4 footings; 
  • Install a backwall to accommodate the transition between road and bridge on the south end of the bridge; 
  • Assemble approximately 151 feet of bridge truss and launch the bridge truss to the south end;
  • Remove the temporary roller bearings and lower bridge onto permanent bearings; 
  • Put grout/cement in 86 anchor bolts for the permanent bearings; 
  • Adjust bridge truss for a smooth ride onto and off the bridge; Install 12 devices, which are 900 pounds each, to prevent uplift of the bridge in a storm event; 
  • Bolt together and install 610 steel deck panels to the truss floor beams to create the riding surface; Complete backfilling the retaining walls at the ends of the bridge; 
  • Grade and pave the roadway approaches to the bridge. 
  • Install guardrail to the approaches and both sides of the bridge;
  • and Pave 2-3 inches of asphalt on the deck panels. 

Roadway at the Pea Island Bridge and Rodanthe
  • Continue fine grading to shape the road bed for asphalt paving; 
  • Pave approximately 9,000 tons of asphalt;
  • Install approximately 82 sand bags at the south end of the s-curves; 
  • Reshape the dune were sand bags were installed; 
  • Reconstruct the shoulder and reshape the dunes; 
  • and Install permanent traffic control devices, reflectors and place pavement markings.

Notes from the Breach: Assistant Resident Engineer Pablo Hernandez

Assistant Resident Engineer Pablo Herandez
For the last month, we’ve been keeping you updated daily on the progress of NCDOT’s efforts to repair damage done to N.C.12 after Hurricane Irene. The lion’s share of the information we’re passing on comes directly from one person, Assistant Resident Engineer Pablo Hernandez, NCDOT’s project manager on-site.  He spends every day, and even some nights making sure things are on track, overseeing the repairs on the S-curves near Rodanthe and the installation of the temporary bridge on Pea Island.  We caught up with him early this morning via cell phone from Dare County.

Hernandez is a 13-year veteran of NCDOT. He spent six years working for the Washington state transportation department before coming back to North Carolina where he worked on another famous span – the Virginia Dare MemorialBridge near Manteo, which happens to be our state’s longest bridge at 5.2 miles.

“I’ve been coming to the Outer Banks ever since I was a little kid,” Hernandez said.  “The beaches here are very similar to the beaches where my mother is from in South America.  Back in 1998, I was fortunate enough to get a job in a beach community like this.”

Among the projects he’s worked on in his NCDOT career, Hernandez said the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge was certainly the biggest.  He also recalls that an intense effort to repair seven bridges on Ocracoke in two and a half months in 2008 garnered much community attention. The Pea Island project, however, is the real standout.

“It ranks as the most unusual, most complex and most fast-paced project I’ve worked on,” he said.  

Hernandez said the way Dare County, North Carolina and the world is following the repairs is also notable.

“Back in 2008 on the Ocracoke project, all we had was the ‘straight’ internet.  We had a web page that we updated maybe every other day and that was all.  Now with Twitter and Facebook there’s more widespread interest.  It’s really having an impact.”

Hernandez’s updates and photos often include mentions of wildlife or pictures of a nice sunset over the marshes around the project.  In talking to him, it’s clear he has a connection with the whole Outer Banks area that extends well beyond the task at hand.   Recently, a tenacious snapping turtle tried to across the work zone, and it was Hernandez who went to the rescue.

“I just had to get him out of the road.  I didn’t want him to get run over by some piece of heavy equipment,” Hernandez explained. “But I did it with a shovel – people don’t understand how fast those things can move! “

Was he successful and did the turtle cooperate?

“Yes, but not without a fight!”

Hernandez doesn’t have much free time these days, but when he does, he enjoys hanging out on the beach with his family and traveling to see other members of his family who are in Uruguay and Mexico, and he’s learning to kite surf.

More from Hernandez in our video "Restoring the Link"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today's Update

Here's what's happened today:

At the Rodanthe breach area, crews continued shaping the sand embankments at the S-curves to the correct elevation for the roadway. Sandbag installation was completed at the south end of the Pea Island breech on the ocean and sound side. Crews continued the fine grading of the road bed in preparation of asphalt paving later this week and has begun asphalt base for the northbound lane south of the s-curves. Yesterday, 24 truckloads, totaling 560 tons of asphalt, were delivered to the project.

At the temporary bridge location on Pea Island, crews drove the last 4 piles at bent 1. Bents are substructures supporting each end of the bridge span. The concrete for the footings at bent 2 was placed through a 5” diameter pipeline mounted on the bridge truss across the breech. A concrete pump truck was connected to the 375 foot pipeline.  An additional 77 feet of the bridge truss was assembled. 

Where are we with the major components of the bridge:


Concrete Footings

Sheet Pilings