Beaches Not Bridges: Preservation, Public Safety, & Access


Save Hatteras Island Beaches!

Northern Rodanthe has one of the highest beach erosion rates in North Carolina.   NCDOT is planning to build a 2-mile bridge in northern Rodanthe in one of two locations.  One of those locations is on the current NC 12 easement and that bridge is designed to be "on the beach and in the surf" as erosion moves the shoreline westward. Eventually the beach will be destroyed.

Keep Our Beaches Safe!
The Environmental Assessment, recently released by NCDOT ( NC 12 Projects, EA download), acknowledges that a bridge on the current NC 12 easement is a public safety concern ("… In addition, the presence of bridge piles in areas where the bridge would be less than 150 feet from shore would be a safety hazard to surfers and other recreational ocean users.").  However, the quoted sentence is the only mention of this hazard in the entire document.  We are not experts on ocean/beach hazards, but we have observed swimmers, surfers, and children playing on Mirlo beach for many years.  This bridge will be a major hazard!  In the beginning, when the piles are on the beach close enough to be reached by shore break, the piles will be an attractive nuisance.  Children will play around them, boogie board up the beach toward them (often intentionally), etc.  Knowing the force of those waves, it is likely that some children will be slammed into the piles, and head injuries are a real concern, along with broken bones, scrapes, and bruises.  As the shoreline recedes further, and the piles are in the littoral trough and eventually on the sand bar, the hazard will become extreme.  Waves will push surfers and swimmers into the piles, and scouring is likely to create unpredictable turbulence and exacerbate rip current dangers.

Preserve Easy Beach Access for Everyone!
The bridges proposed for Rodanthe will reduce public access to Pea Island beaches (a Rodanthe bridge together with the planned New Inlet bridge will reduce access from approx. 12 miles of beach to 8 miles).

What Should We Do?
Although it is clear that a bridge on the beach and in the surf is not a good solution, opinions differ about what solution is best.  Those who are most concerned about preserving the natural character of the Outer Banks and maintaining property values feel that beach nourishment is best.  Building a bridge means abandoning northern Rodanthe to erosion and inlet formation, such as occurred with Hurricanes Irene and Sandy.   (More ...)  Those who are most concerned with environmental issues and protecting NC 12 against erosion and inlet formation favor a bridge in Pamlico Sound, such as the proposed New Location alternative.
Click to enlarge images.

Beaches Not Bridges is a grassroots organization whose primary goal is to facilitate realistic solutions to erosion problems on the Outer Banks of North Carolina that balance environmental, social, and economic objectives.  We look for common ground among the diverse set of stakeholders who care about the fate of the Outer Banks, and provide objective analyses of the trade-offs involved in any proposed solutions. Contact us at beachesnotbridges@gmail.com.