Engineers from the state DOT meet with federal wildlife officials this afternoon to consider options for repairing Highway 12 on the Outer Banks. Storm surge from Hurricane Irene breached the highway in several spots on Hatteras Island. The options include beach re-nourishment, creating bridges above the existing road, or bridges that re-route the highway. But at issue in today's meeting is how the options might affect the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Beth Smyre is the DOT planning engineer who oversees the project.
Beth Smyre: "Certainly the use of a structure - some sort of bridge - is going to, in our opinion, give us a longer lasting roadway and be much safer in order to maintain and keep traffic flowing in that area, but we also realize there are impacts associated with those that we have to think about before we finally pick an option."
Smyre says the repairs are designed to last about 50 years. The DOT hopes to award its first contract for the project by next August. Officials estimate it will cost between $211 million and $387 million.