N.C. 12, the Outer Banks highway that has been closed for repairs since late August, will reopen for traffic late this afternoon or early this evening, the state Department of Transportation says (see 10/6/11 story with reader comments.]
The road was closed after Hurricane Irene blew open a new inlet on the northern end of Hatteras Island and washed out several sections of the road just north of the village of Rodanthe on Aug. 27. Contractors erected a 662-foot steel truss bridge over the new inlet.
The $10 million repair is a temporary fix for N.C. 12. Gov. Bev Perdue said state officials will develop a long-term solution to the frequent storm damage and repair costs for N.C. 12.
The N.C. 12 breaches cut off all seven villages of Hatteras Island, with 5,000 residents, from their lifeline to the mainland.
An emergency ferry service has been running around the clock between Rodanthe and Stumpy Point on the mainland, but riders often wait in line for several hours.
The heavily damaged villages of Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo are still closed to non-residents. Tourists and other visitors traveling to Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras are required to come by ferry via the neighboring island of Ocracoke.
The limited ferry service has slowed the pace of hurricane recovery and has suppressed the tourism traffic on which both Ocracoke and Hatteras islands depend.