The proposed new bridge around Rodanthe. (NCDOT)

Public meetings will be held this summer

Raleigh – North Carolina has received approval from the federal government to move forward with planning of the Rodanthe Bridge.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved the revised Environmental Assessment for the Rodanthe Bridge, a key step toward constructing a new permanent bridge for N.C. 12 in northern Rodanthe.  N.C. 12 is a vital link for this region. The bridge on a new location includes a 2.4-mile-long bridge known as a “jug handle,” extending from the southern end of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge over the Pamlico Sound into Rodanthe.

The project is one of two projects south of the Oregon Inlet that make up Phase II of the Bonner Bridge Replacement Project. The N.C. 12 Rodanthe Bridge project is considered Phase IIb.

The new bridge will be a long-term solution to keep N.C. 12 open through an area that in the past has dealt with severe storm damage. In 2014, a project was completed that used 1.6 million cubic yards of dredged sand to protect the highway until a new bridge can be built.

Following public meetings in January 2014, NCDOT changed its preferred option for a long-term solution in the Rodanthe area from the Bridge Within Existing N.C. 12 Easement Alternative to the Bridge on New Location Alternative.

NCDOT prefers this design over a bridge along the existing route of N.C. 12 because it minimizes impacts to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, the ocean shoreline and the community of Rodanthe, while maintaining safe and reliable access for area residents and visitors to southern Hatteras Island. This alternative has been redesigned since the 2014 public meetings in order to minimize impacts within Pamlico Sound and to the Rodanthe community.

Next Steps

The NCDOT will begin soliciting public comments on the revised Environmental Assessment, and hold a set of local public meetings this summer to publicize the preferred alternative. The Department will partner with the FHWA to consider those public comments and identify the final selected alternative as required under the National Environmental Policy Act. A Record of Decision can then be issued concerning the route choice, which allows the NCDOT to award the project as early as this fall.

The bridge is estimated to cost between $179.3 million and $198.3 million. The project will be built using the design-build method, which allows the Department to contract a team that consists of both designers and a contractor to simultaneously design and construct the project. Projects can be let sooner and completed faster using this approach.

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