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Sea and sand close N.C. 12 again

RODANTHE Hatteras Island temporarily lost its highway link to the mainland again after ocean overwash covered N.C. 12 north of Rodanthe late Tuesday, blocking access for four-wheel-drive vehicles that had begun using the storm-damaged route last weekend, the state Department of Transportation said Wednesday.

DOT crews have struggled to repair damage caused Oct. 28 when Hurricane Sandy destroyed protective dunes and sandbags and undermined a long stretch of pavement on N.C. 12 just north of Rodanthe.

A DOT dump truck driver was killed in an accident early Sunday while working to clear sand from another stretch of N.C. 12 farther north on Pea Island.

The hurricane left the road especially vulnerable to more damage from relatively mild weather. DOT engineers took photos at Rodanthe Wednesday morning that showed the Atlantic Ocean splashing at the edge of N.C. 12’s broken pavement, with a row of Mirlo Beach vacation houses standing in the surf.

Further damage is possible with more rough seas and a weekend nor’easter in the forecast. DOT officials have said they hope to reopen N.C. 12 for normal traffic by the end of the month, after repairing hurricane damage to the road and to Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet.

Since Saturday, DOT had allowed drivers with four-wheel-drive vehicles to drive through the deep sand along N.C. 12. That access was canceled Wednesday morning and restored by late afternoon. DOT advises motorists who plan on driving this stretch of road to call 511 or go to www.ncdot.gov/travel to check road conditions before they travel.

DOT continues running an emergency ferry service to Rodanthe from Stumpy Point on the Dare County mainland.

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