RALEIGH — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $20.3 million contract to build out the heavily eroded beach at the north end of Rodanthe, a village on Hatteras Island.
The state Department of Transportation requested the two-mile beach nourishment project to provide a buffer for N.C. 12 the Outer Banks highway, frequently washed out by hurricanes and other ocean storms at Rodanthe.
DOT engineers hope the beach project will buy enough time so the state can proceed with a construction project to elevate parts of the highway on a bridge. A contract for that work is expected to be awarded by the end of the year.
The beach nourishment by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co. LLC of Oak Brook, Ill., is expected to be finished be fore the end of September. DOT will pay for the work with federal funds earmarked for relief from Hurricane Sandy, which damaged the area in 2012.
The S-Curves stretch of the highway north of Rodanthe is narrowly shielded from high tide by giant sandbags and artificial dunes, which are continually being repaired and reshaped by big yellow bulldozers.
DOT engineers have a longer-term fix in mind, a bridge that will lift more than 2 miles of N.C. 12 high above the surging ocean. They want to buy time – and provide a protective buffer for their three-year construction project – by building out a 100-yard-wide beach at Rodanthe.
The new beach will last a few years, if all goes well, until ocean storms wash all that sand away. The beach may benefit private homeowners in the northern end of Rodanthe and a shrinking subdivision called Mirlo Beach, which has lost three rows of cottages to the Atlantic Ocean since the 1980s.