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Problematic Section Of NC-12 Will Have Beach Widened

A screenshot from 2013 at Mirlo Beach near Rodanthe shows the surf advancing on N.C. 12.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $20.3 million contract for beach re-nourishment just north of Rodanthe. The contract is going to the same Illinois dredging company that re-nourished the beach in Nags Head just before Hurricane Irene hit the area in 2011, Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, of Illinois.

Two dredges will pump more than a million cubic yards of sand from offshore, widening the Mirlo beach area. Mirlo beach is famous for its rows of homes that have disappeared because of beach erosion and the encroaching tide.

The two-mile long project is meant as a stop gap while the state NC Department of Transportation raises that section of NC-12 to combat tidal over-wash. While the project is mainly protective for the more long-term NC-12 design, many see other benefits as well.

"A by-product of that is you're protecting property values," said Warren Judge, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners.  "You're protecting home and property values, which are important to local governments. With Hatteras Island, NC-12 is our only route," Judge added. "So it's a huge health and welfare, safety and life issue, getting people to and from medical appointments."

A proposed plan for the Mirlo Beach re-nourishment project. It's expected to have a 3-year life.
Credit NCDOT
A proposed plan for the Mirlo Beach re-nourishment project. It's expected to have a 3-year life.

The dredging will likely last into September. Judge expects the area will need to be re-nourished again in the future.

"Certainly, if you want the project to work and be sustained, at some point in time you have to re-nourish. We are big proponents and we constantly urge NCDOT to use nourishment."

Stories, features and more by WUNC News Staff. Also, features and commentary not by any one reporter.
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