After 1,500 man hours of backbreaking work and innovative engineering, the old familiar hum of traffic returned to N.C. 12 when the N.C. Department of Transportation reopened the road on Oct. 10. It was an important moment for residents and signaled a huge step forward in the recovery efforts made by NCDOT following Hurricane Irene.
"This is a big day for us," said NCDOT Engineer Jerry Jennings. "N.C. 12 is a lifeline to Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks, and we're very happy to restore that access."
Jennings and other crewmembers watched as packed vehicles crowded the road to test out the temporary bridge over the largest breach along Pea Island. The bridge is a two-lane Mabey Universal Bridge manufactured with a modular design that allowed it to be assembled in about six weeks.
Although the bridge is a temporary solution, its strength and durability allow it to remain in place as long as necessary to keep traffic flowing. It is also an example of how NCDOT worked seamlessly together with the contracting community to restore what Gov. Bev Perdue called, "an economic lifeline throughout the Outer Banks."
"This has been a great team effort between our contractors and our suppliers, and certainly all our DOT employees," Jennings said.
Moments before the road reopened, NCDOT was busy finishing up last-minute details including posting new speed limit signs and lining the road. But there is still more work to be done.
That work includes paving the final layer of asphalt where the road meets the bridge and on the bridge surface, placing the final pavement markings, removing some remaining old asphalt, shoulder grading and seeding, and general clean-up.
Crews are also busy paving the sections of the newly reconstructed N.C. 12 between Pea Island and Rodanthe, along Mirlo Beach.
NCDOT is working closely with all partners to develop a long-term solution as soon as possible and submit it to the governor to ensure N.C. 12 remains a strong, viable way for residents and visitors to reach the Outer Banks.