Mirlo Beach in Rodanthe, NC

Mirlo Beach is a family-oriented community on the outer banks of North Carolina located at the north end of the village of Rodanthe -- the gateway to Hatteras Island.  It is a beautiful place to live and vacation.  Right now, however, we are simply trying to survive!  You can help by writing or emailing the government representatives listed at the bottom of this page to express your support for beach nourishment as the best solution to combat erosion and guarantee easy, safe access to Hatteras Island (including Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras Village, and Ocracoke Island).

Sign a petition to support beach nourishment HERE.
Sign a petition to oppose the bridge-on-the-beach HERE.
Contact NCDOT to support beaches and oppose bridges (Drew Joyner, Public Comments; Beth Smyre, Project Planning)
Contact us to get on our email list (mirlobeachhoa@gmail.com).


FACT #1:  Northern Rodanthe has one of the highest beach erosion rates in North Carolina.

FACT #2: 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), and eventually the beaches will be destroyed. NCDOT is planning to build a 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.

FACT #3:   The Environmental Assessment recently released by NCDOT acknowledges that this 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.

FACT #4:  Sand nourishment can stop the erosion and preserve beach access and habitat.

THE ONLY QUESTION: Is nourishment cost effective as a feasible long run solution (compared to bridges)?

ANSWER: No one knows, but definitive data are on the way.  The emergency nourishment planned for Spring 2014 will protect NC 12 until we have a scientific, data-based answer.  Let's give beaches a chance! (More ...)


from our letter to Gov. McCrory and Sec. Tata:

"Our request is simple.  Please work to put beach nourishment back on the table as a solution for northern Rodanthe.  We will provide more detailed support for this request in the future (also see our website, www.mirlobeach.org).  However, the short story is that the merger team declined to pursue nourishment for mainly political reasons, and since the time of that decision more data has become available (e.g., from the Nags Head nourishment project) and will continue to flow in (e.g., from the emergency nourishment planned for this Fall).  We believe that good science, good economics, and common sense will reveal that nourishment is the best solution.  If those three reveal that a bridge is better, so be it.  At least our homes will be sacrificed to the ocean for the right reasons."

--Wes Hutchinson, VP, Mirlo Beach Homeowners Association, March 12, 2013 (bold italics added; see full letter here)


from Sec. Tata's reply:

"The decision to eliminate from consideration a long-term beach nourishment alternative was not made until after consultation with coastal scientists and engineers, many of whom echoed concerns about the use of prolonged beach nourishment in an area with some of the highest erosion rates in the State.  Nevertheless, NCDOT will review the recent Nags Head beach nourishment project, data collected by the USACE, and other relevant information to determine if further consideration of a long-term beach nourishment alternative is warranted."

-- Tony Tata, Secretary, NCDOT, April 10, 2013 (bold italics added; see full letter here)

The Top 10 Reasons to Support Beach Nourishment

1.    Beauty.  The ribbon of sand that is the Outer Banks of North Carolina provides some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, some of the most beautiful wildlife, some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets.  Nourishment preserves this beauty.  Let's be honest, bridges are ugly.  

2.    Working with nature.  Nourishment maintains a beach with sand matched to that beach.  Pumping sand back onto a beach is simply using a human force to repair damage done by a natural force -- erosion.  No concrete, no steel, no permanent manmade changes to nature. 

3.    Permanence.  It is sometimes said that beach nourishment is not a permanent solution, but that just means that the nourishment must be repeated. This is how New York, New Jersey, and Delaware maintain their beaches (along with many states and countries).  The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) estimated that the nourishment cycle for Rodanthe would be once every 4 years.  However, we will never know until we try it.  It could be shorter; it could be longer.  Thus, we should nourish as soon as possible to learn the facts.   
4.    Speed.  Nourishment is the fastest way to protect NC 12.  The main thing that delays nourishment, is getting the needed permits.  In South Nags Head, that took several years, which is about how long it takes to design and build a bridge.  We assume that a project this big and important will be fast-tracked by the appropriate government agencies.  NC 12 needs protection ASAP!  

5.    Flexibility.  Because nourishment is an ongoing solution, it can be repeated sooner or later depending on conditions.  It leaves open the possibility of better solutions 20 years down the road based on new technologies.  A bridge can always be built later if experience proves that nourishment is too costly or ineffective.  A bridge cannot be "unbuilt" later, if nourishment is shown to be better or if better alternatives emerge.  A bridge cannot even be stopped halfway if cost overruns show it to be be much more expensive than expected.  

6.    Saves money. The cost of a bridge in Rodanthe is $114 million to $240 million (NCDOT estimate in 2006 dollars, $128MM to $270MM in 2011 dollars) and $169 million to $212 million for nourishment (our estimate in 2011 dollars based on figures provided by Coastal Science and Engineering). However, build a bridge today, pay for it today. Begin beach nourishment and you pay only 1/12 of the total cost today, and the "present value" cost of nourishment is only $106 million to $133 million.  

7.    Due diligence. The BIG question with nourishment is whether or not sand can be found.  This is why nourishment needs to be one of the alternatives selected by NCDOT and the Merger Team on December 15 for additional study.  What the experts have said is that there is very little sand in Wimble Shoals (several miles from Rodanthe), but there is a lot of sand in Platt Shoals, which is 6 - 9 miles north and there may be sources of sand in between.  Experts also say that even 10 - 20 miles can be economically feasible.  We need to know where the sand is!  

8.    Preserves the Hatteras Island economy. All of the bridge alternatives will have a devastating effect on the cultural and economic life of north Rodanthe (not just Mirlo Beach).  Popular uses such as fishing, birding, surfing, wind surfing, and kite boarding will all be negatively affected or eliminated.  Vacation rentals and property values will plummet.  The Mirlo Beach subdivision alone has a tax value of over $50 million, and the rest of northern Rodanthe is worth at least that much.  Thus, the annual tax contribution to Dare Co. is over $400,000.  Over the 50-year life of a bridge, that is $20 million.  Add to that the rental revenue and retail sales to vacationing renters and it is clear that bridges will result in a substantial financial loss to our community.  ... and our community is one of the few that send more tax revenue to Raleigh than is spent here on government services.  

9.    Rodanthe is the test case for all of OBX.  All of Hatteras Island is experiencing erosion problems: private homes in the villages, Pea Island WIldlife Refuge, and the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  What happens in Rodanthe will be a model for everywhere else.  Do we really want a policy of simply building bridges and abandoning the current NC12 and the lands it supports?  Is it right to just let the island dissolve into the Atlantic, when nourishment might keep the place just like it is now? 

10.    Send a message. It took 20 years to make a decision about the Bonner Bridge.  The North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration worked with a Merger Team with representatives from many local, state, and national governmental organizations.  But the people who live, work, and play here always come last.  We get a month or two of public comment, then a decision is made.  It is time for common sense to prevail.  Please send a message to everyone who will be in the room when this decision is made and everyone who can directly influence this decision.  It is now or never.  


Ms. Beth Smyre, PE
NCDOT – Project Development and Environmental Analysis Unit
1548 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1548
Phone: (919) 707-6043
Email: bsmyre@ncdot.gov

Representative Tim Spear

Phone: 919-715-3029

Email: Tim.Spear@ncleg.net

Legislative Mailing Address: NC House of Representatives

300 N. Salisbury Street, Room 402

Raleigh, NC 27603-5925


Commissioner Warren Judge, Chairman

Email: warrenj@darenc.com

Commissioner Allen Burrus

Email: allenb@darenc.com

Dare County Commissioners

(252) 475-5000

954 Marshall C. Collins Drive

PO Box 1000

Manteo NC  27954

Governor Pat McCrory
Office of the Governor
Constituent Services Office
116 West Jones Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603
Phone: (800) 662-7952 or (919) 733-2391
Fax: (919) 733-2120

U. S. Congressman Walter Jones
Web: http://jones.house.gov/
Email: Joshua.bowlen@mail.house.gov
Greenville N.C. Office:
1105-C Corporate Drive
Greenville, NC 27858-4211
Phone: 252-931-1003 or toll-free (in N.C. only) 800-351-1697

Washington, DC Office: 
2333 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-3415

U. S. Senator Richard Burr
(202) 224-3154

U. S. Senator Kay Hagan
(202) 224-6342
Web Form: http://www.hagan.senate.gov/contact/

NC  Representative Paul Tine
NC House of Representatives
16 W. Jones Street, Room 1307
Raleigh, NC 27601-1096
252-305-5133, 919-733-5906

Do we have our facts straight?  We have tried hard to document the facts behind our opinions.  If you think we are in error, please let us know.  Of course, if you know of other facts that support beach nourishment, we welcome those as well.  mirlobeachhoa@gmail.com