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N.C. 12, the Outer Banks highway that was severed by Hurricane Irene in late August, will reopen for traffic by Tuesday, the state Department of Transportation said today. [10/6/11 update: see today's story with reader comments.]
“The hope is we can do it before then, maybe Monday,” said Greer Beaty, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation. “But everything is crazy-dependent on the weather. Weather could blow everything off."
Contractors have erected a 662-foot steel truss bridge over a wide gap in the northern end of Hatteras Island, known to locals as New New Inlet, that was blown open by Hurricane Irene on Aug. 27. They are putting four inches of asphalt pavement on a washed-out section of the road just north of the village of Rodanthe.
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.