Impending nor'easter threatens N.C. 12 repairs

The Associated Press

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RALEIGH — Attempts to complete repairs to a battered section of N.C. Highway 12 may be further delayed by a nor'easter expected to form along the North Carolina coast, a state engineer said Friday.

Forecasts from the National Weather Service warn of the possibility of coastal flooding in Dare County into next week. The weather service office in Newport says the advisory is in effect until 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Forecasters say winds, dune erosion and high tide will create overwash on N.C. 12 north of Cape Hatteras. The weather service says water is expected on the road a few hours before and after high tides.

N.C. Department of Transportation engineer Jerry Jennings said while repairs are nearly complete at Kitty Hawk, the Bonner Bridge and Pea Island. But Jennings said Mirlo Beach may take the most time and the approaching storm won't help.

"It's certainly a challenge. After the storm passes, we usually have an area to work with and we're able to get in there and move forward," Jennings said. "The challenge has been since the storm has passed. We've had no calm weather. I'm speaking more to surf conditions. We've had those almost continually over the last couple of weeks and, according to the forecast, it's only going to get worse."

Jennings said there was a half-mile of road damage, and the combination of weather and surf has prevented work crews from making much progress. In addition, Jennings said there was more ocean overwash on Friday.

"We had hoped to open it by Thanksgiving. That is not going to be possible," Jennings said. "Any progress is going to be limited."

The highway was badly damaged by Superstorm Sandy and has been closed at times since then. Jennings said 4-wheel access on the island has been intermittent because of overwash

Jed Dixon of the N.C. Ferry Division said emergency service between Stumpy Point and Rodanthe has been established to help residents reach the island, and he said there are additional departures on sound routes.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Merrell said while the nor'easter will form well off the North Carolina coast, it will produce ocean waves and swells that will create more flooding along the Outer Banks. Merrell said conditions will begin to subside on Thanksgiving Day.

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