Bigger dunes, sand fences and vegetation are all part of keeping the beach, and NC Highway 12 in Kitty Hawk near the Black Pelican, from washing away, again.
“We’ve repaired this area five or six times in the last five years for a total of about $1.2 million,” said NCDOT division maintenance engineer Win Bridgers.
Bridgers says this is a vulnerable area that gets hit hard by hurricanes and storms.
Holland Slachter works at the Black Pelican and remembers walking over to see protective dunes washed away and the road caved in a few years back.
“It was kind of crazy because it was like a little piece of earth just moved away, it looked like the beach was right here,” said Slachter.
Susie Hedley also works at the Black Pelican, and says the damage from storms not only causes the road to close, but brings attention to the road closure.
“Everyone was flocking to it, was a local attraction, but a tourist attraction too, everyone would bring their cameras and walk over to the caved in area,” said Hedley.
Our sister station, WAV Y, asked Bridgers what’s been done to keep storms from damaging this area again.
“The town of Kitty Hawk had beach nourishment performed, and building out the beach and moving the surf line moving away from the road will provide lots of protection of the road,” said Bridgers.
But there’s something you can’t see under the dunes that is a big part in keeping this road intact.
“The Department of Transportation installed sand bags for approximately 2,000 feet from here at the Black Pelican down south to the bath house, and then north about 2,000 feet toward the first cottage you see in the background,” he said.
Bridgers said last year the sandbags helped and the area didn’t suffer extensive damage.
But he says with Mother Nature, you never know just how hard she’ll hit.
Bridgers says N.C. statutes don’t allow them to use things like concrete in this area, so that’s why they use sandbags.
He says there are things that locals and tourists can do to keep this area it the best shape.
He says avoid walking on the dunes because that creates weak spots.