Plans have been delayed until the end of the 2022 hurricane season to remove about 2 miles of roadway and its protective sandbags through the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge after the new Rodanthe “jug handle” bridge bypassing the area opens to traffic.
The delay is to give the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative time to install transmission lines under the bridge. Currently, the transmission lines that power Hatteras and Ocracoke islands are along the roadway that was slated to be removed this spring. If the roadway were to be removed as scheduled, the transmission lines would be exposed to the elements and not easily accessible, according to the cooperative.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the refuge, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the cooperative came to the agreement.
“Delaying this removal until November 30 will give CHEC both protection and access to its existing transmission lines that provide electricity to all of Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.” Susan Flythe, cooperative general manager and executive vice president, said in a statement. “It will also provide protection and access to the fiber optic cable owned by Lumen Technologies, which is buried in the easement from (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and provides internet and communications for the islands.”
New River Electrical of Botetourt County, Virginia, has begun the work to install the hanger and conduit system. The work, which is expected to continue until early summer, will require minor traffic delays during daylight hours. The on-bridge work will pause during the summer months and resume after Labor Day with the goal to complete the cable pull by the end of 2022. The new line is expected to be energized in 2023. Updates on the timing of delays can be found at DriveNC.gov.
“The Service is pleased to be able to offer this solution for CHEC to help ensure access to this critical infrastructure while cable installation on the bridge is completed,” said Rebekah Martin, project leader of the Coastal North Carolina National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “We remain committed to working with NCDOT and CHEC and appreciate our long-standing and positive relationship with both partners.”
Vehicular public access to the old road will be prohibited while the work is ongoing to ensure public safety. The north end will be secured with a locked gate. Initially, 200 to 500 feet of asphalt is to be removed on the southern end. All asphalt and sandbags are to be removed by Nov. 30.
The Coastal Resources Commission, during its meeting Feb. 10, gave NCDOT the go-ahead to build a turnaround and install a perpendicular sandbag structure after the roadway is removed. Concerns about removing the roadway and exposing the infrastructure following the commission’s approval were reported Feb. 21 by the Outer Banks Voice.