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WFAE reporter David Boraks explores how the way we live influences climate change and its impact across the Carolinas. You also can read additional national and international climate news.

New bridge close to opening at North Carolina's Outer Banks

2020 Rodanthe Bridge.jpg
North Carolina Department of Transportation
The Rodanthe Bridge under construction in 2020 in Pamlico Sound, looking toward Rodanthe.

A new bridge that will bypass an often-flooded section of the main road on North Carolina's Outer Banks will open as soon as this week, ahead of the spring and summer travel season. It's a fix for a problem that has worsened with climate change.

The 2.4-mile elevated roadway replaces a stretch of North Carolina Route 12 on Hatteras Island that often washes out during storms. As rebuilding costs rise and storms become more intense, state transportation officials decided to replace the paved road with a bridge.

The Rodanthe Bridge shifts the road away from Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge and into Pamlico Sound in a shape described as a "jughandle." It returns to land at the town of Rodanthe.

North Carolina Department of Transportation
Workers have been putting finishing touches on the Rodanthe Bridge at the Outer Banks this month.

Work began in 2018 after a judge ruled against residents who tried to stop the $155 million project.

North Carolina Department of Transportation says it will protect the environment and make N.C. 12 more reliable.

Runners, walkers and bicyclists got to try out the bridge during a community day Saturday. NCDOT has not set a specific opening date for traffic, saying only "sometime in mid-April."

The Rodanthe Bridge is the second phase of a larger Outer Banks highway project that includes the $245 million replacement of the Bonner Bridge, over Oregon Inlet, which opened in 2019. Environmental groups previously sued to halt that project. The Rodanthe Bridge was part of a compromise that settled the earlier suit.

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