ALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation is making preparations today to open N.C. 12 on Pea Island to four-wheel drive access by noon on Saturday, Nov. 10.
The route will offer one lane in each direction, except at the temporary bridge and the Bonner Bridge, where the route will narrow to a single lane for vehicles traveling in both directions. The department will place temporary traffic signals at each bridge to regulate traffic flow safely.
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 makeshift lane markers comprised of barrels, cones and flags connected with orange protective fencing.
When the four-wheel drive route opens tomorrow, NCDOT asks motorists to follow these important safety measures:
■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;
■Drive slowly; and
■Pay close attention to the temporary traffic signals.
NCDOT will close the four-wheel drive route from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the first few days to ensure motorist safety during the overnight hours. Once crews open both lanes of the temporary bridge, the department will allow four-wheel drive traffic 24 hours per day.
In addition, NCDOT has awarded the third of three contracts to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy on N.C. 12 in Dare County, and is making progress clearing sand from roads along the Outer Banks.
Crews awarded Barnhill Contracting Co. a $4.1 million contract to reconstruct dunes, rebuild the sandbags and repair the roadway at the S-curves near Rodanthe. Crews are already stockpiling sand in Avon and hauling it to the damaged area near Mirlo Beach.
In Kitty Hawk, crews are continuing to move and place sand along the ocean side of the highway to rebuild the dune that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. On Pea Island, NCDOT is clearing sand pushed by the Nor’easter onto N.C. 12 north of the temporary bridge and waiting for high water from the storm to recede south of the temporary bridge, so repairs can continue.
The department urges motorists to “know before you go” about traffic conditions along the Outer Banks. For real-time travel information at any time, call 511, visit www.ncdot.gov/travel or follow NCDOT on Twitter at www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter/.
Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. To access it, type “m.ncdot.gov” into the browser of your smartphone and bookmark it for future reference. NCDOT Mobile is compatible with the iPhone, Android and some newer Blackberry phones.
(Editor’s note: To view images of hurricane recovery efforts along the Outer Banks, visit the NCDOT Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/ncdot/.)