The site along N.C. 12 on Ocracoke Island, shown here just after Hurricane Dorian in September 2019, where the North Carolina Department of Transportation plans to place the oversized sandbags. Photo: Division of Coastal Management

NC - CRC Allows Larger Sandbags to Protect NC 12

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has been granted permission to use oversized sandbags to expedite construction of its temporary erosion control structure alongside a portion of N.C. 12 on Ocracoke Island.

A view of the N.C. 12 project site on Ocracoke Island on Oct. 29, 2019. Photo: Division of Coastal Management

The Coastal Resources Commission on Thursday unanimously approved NCDOT’s request for a variance to its Coastal Area Management Act, or CAMA, major permit to use sandbags that are larger than typically allowed by the state.

Colin Justice, assistant attorney general with the North Carolina Department of Justice, told commissioners in their online meeting Thursday that using the larger sandbags will speed up completion of the project in time for peak hurricane season.

“This property is extremely long and it’s very flat,” Justice said. “This part of Ocracoke Island is one of the highest erosion rates on the N.C. coast.”

The sandbags that will be used are 50 feet long. State rules allow for bags that measure flat to be between 7 feet and 15 feet in length.

The bags are white – the only color available in the larger size. The state requires that bags be tan in color.

Justice explained that the larger sandbags will be filled with dry sand, a process that is faster than the traditional method of pumping wet sand to plump up the bags.

The rate of installation of the larger sandbags is about 200 feet per day. The current average installation rate for traditional sandbags at the project is about 30 feet per day.

Justice said quicker installation and the fact that less equipment will be needed to put dry sand in the bags will reduce impacts to the shoreline.

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