Restoring access to Cape Hatteras National Seashore via Highway 12, which was severed at Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge by Hurricane Irene, will not be easily, or quickly, accomplished.
The hurricane sliced through the highway in several places just north of Rodanthe, outside of the national seashore. The largest breach goes through the national wildlife refuge.
According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials, about 6 miles south of the Bonner Bridge the "storm cut a huge swath between the Pamlico Sound and the ocean, creating a new inlet that wiped out a large section of the highway. The inlet blew out from the Sound side as a result of significant storm surge in the Sound and will likely continue to scour getting wider and deeper in the days ahead until a balance is reached between the volume of water in the Sound and tidal flows from the ocean."
FWS employees have been working with the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to assess the damage to the highway as well as refuge habitats and determine the best way pursue repair work.
According to The Outer Banks Voice, options being considered include getting to work filling in the cuts, which are estimated to range in width from 100 to 160 feet, or using temporary bridges to span them.