July 28, 2022 Update
After several delays that prolonged completion, the Jug Handle Bridge has officially opened to traffic!
A damaged expansion joint, a mid-May nor’easter, and issues with the pavement markings meeting the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT)'s specifications for quality or reflectivity, postponed the opening of the bridge.
March 31, 2022 Update
Construction of the Jug Handle bridge is coming to a close, and the community has been invited to see it up close and personal.
A Community Day date has been set for April 9, 2022, for Outer Banks residents and visitors to walk, run, or bike over the 2.4-mile bridge.
Join local officials at 1 p.m. at the south end of the bridge for brief remarks before it opens to the public until 5 p.m. Please note that due to safety reasons, scooters, skateboards and rollerblades will not be allowed on the bridge during Community Day.
Parking will be available at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center and at the Rodanthe beach access parking lot. Parking and access at the north end of the bridge will not be available.
The bridge is expected to open to vehicular traffic sometime in mid-April.
If you can’t make it to Community Day, be sure to follow @SunRealtyNC on social media for exciting day-of content!
February 1, 2022 Update
The informally named “Jug Handle” bridge is nearing completion, with traffic predicted to shift onto the structure later this month or next, per a December update from NCDOT.
Expecting a 100-year lifespan, the speed limit on the new bridge will be 55 mph, before reducing to 45 mph at the curve on the southern end of the structure. It will reduce again to 35 mph before vehicles enter the new roundabout on NC Highway 12 in the village of Rodanthe, which opened to traffic in November 2021. With a speed limit of 20mph, signage will help keep traffic flowing in a constant direction to prevent motorists from exiting the roundabout to the bridge.
According to the Island Free Press, work to remove the existing NC Highway 12 pavement and sandbags on Pea Island in the S-Curves area will begin once traffic is shifted to the new bridge. NCDOT’s resident engineer for the project, Pablo Hernandez, said that NCDOT has submitted a variance request to the Coastal Resource Commission to create a modified cul-de-sac to allow vehicles to turn around, and to install sandbags and dunes in the immediate area along the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge’s boundary. The variance request is currently on the commission’s agenda for their February 2022 meeting, although parking will likely not be allowed in the ensuing cul-de-sac (if it is approved), and in certain surrounding areas.
Though specifics have yet to be confirmed, Hernandez noted that there have been discussions about a potential grand opening, similar to the ceremony that occurred in conjunction with the February 2019 opening of the Basnight Bridge, where the public could walk or bike along the bridge before it opens to traffic. A name for the bridge has not yet been selected.
Original post, published September 24, 2019
Visitors to Hatteras Island in recent months may have noticed a new bridge taking form. No, it’s not the 2.8 mile long Bonner Bridge replacement over Oregon Inlet, which was completed in early 2019, but instead the 2 lane “Jug Handle” bridge, set to span the southern portion of the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge over the Pamlico Sound and into Northern Rodanthe.
Aiming to minimize the impact to the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, the ocean shoreline and the community of Rodanthe while maintaining safe and reliable access, according to NCDOT, this project is considered part of phase II of the Bonner Bridge replacement project. In response to severe beach erosion on N.C. Hwy 12 caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the 2.4-mile bridge with a distinctive jug handle shape is set to be completed in late 2020 or early 2021. The other part of phase II, the Pea Island Interim Bridge, opened to traffic in November 2017, replacing the temporary metal bridge put in place after Hurricane Irene in 2011.
For updates on bridge construction, visit www.ncdot.gov/projects/nc-12-rodanthe.