“Unfortunately NCDOT crews have been at the mercy of the weather and we are not where we want to be in terms of reopening N.C. 12,” said NCDOT Division Engineer Jerry Jennings. “With recent weather conditions and another forecasted Nor’easter on the way, we will be unable to fully reopen N.C. 12 by Thanksgiving, but are working with the Ferry Division to accommodate the demands of holiday travelers.”
High winds and overwash along N.C. 12 are causing intermittent closures to four-wheel drive access on Pea Island. These closures often occur with very little advanced notice due to rapidly changing weather and surf conditions. When a closure happens, NCDOT must wait for conditions to improve before reopening the route to ensure motorists safety.
Based on current conditions, the route may only be open during low tide. For updated tide information and conditions, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration webpage. To find out the status of the route, call 511, visit our travel information webpage, or follow NCDOT on Twitter or Facebook.
When weather conditions are not causing closures, the four-wheel drive route is scheduled to be open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Because of hazardous driving conditions, Dare County first responders will escort drivers before dawn and after dusk when the road is accessible to traffic.
Drivers of four-wheel drive vehicles should expect a rough ride, which will include traveling over sand, damaged pavement and some water. On the sandy portions of the route, they will follow lane markers comprised of barrels, cones and/or flags.
NCDOT asks motorists to follow these important safety measures on the four-wheel drive access:
•Only drive four-wheel drive vehicles with a high ground clearance. Cross-over four-wheel drive vehicles that are lower to the ground may get stuck in the rugged terrain;
•If you drive at night, use extreme caution. There will be no lights staged along the route, so your vehicle’s headlights will offer the only way for you to see;
•Pay close attention to the temporary traffic signals; and
•All four-wheel drive vehicles are encouraged to lower tire pressure to minimize the chances of becoming stuck.
In addition to the four-wheel drive access, NCDOT’s Ferry Division has added extra departures from each side on its Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route beginning Saturday, Nov. 17 through Monday, Nov. 26, to accommodate holiday traffic demand.
The additional departures include:
- Departing Swan Quarter at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.; and
- Departing Ocracoke at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
As a reminder, the regular fall schedule on the Pamlico Sound is:
- Departing Cedar Island and Ocracoke at 7:30 a.m., 10, 1 p.m. and 4;
- Departing Swan Quarter at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and
- Departing Ocracoke to Swan Quarter at 7 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Ferry reservations can be made online or by calling 800-293-3779 (BY-FERRY) and pressing 2. Ferry information is available via Twitter . To help travelers gauge the amount of traffic waiting to ride the ferry, visit the live webcams Dare County has stationed at Rodanthe and Stumpy Point. The cameras cannot show priority order, but they can offer a real-time look at number of vehicles in line.
More information on N.C. 12 recovery efforts is available on our N.C. 12 webpage and N.C. 12 Facebook page. For the latest details on the emergency ferry route, as well as schedules for our regular ferry routes, call 1-800-BY-FERRY and press 1, or visit the NCDOT Ferry page.