RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/WAVY) - The road linking Hatteras Island to the mainland reopened Monday, more than a month after damage from Hurricane Irene blocked access to that portion of the Outer Banks.
The famed two-lane highway has been closed since Irene struck on Aug. 27. The Category 1 storm carved a new inlet north of Rodanthe and created four breaches in the road.
"I've lived in Hatteras all my life," resident Danny Gray said. "It's the most exciting bridge I've ever come across. This is something else to go across. The bridge rather than that two hour ferry ride."
For the last 44 days, everyone on the island has only been able to leave by ferry. Crews worked around the clock to get the temporary bridge in place. Construction workers were able to fill and pave over the smaller breaks in the road.
"The community has come together," Warren Judge, Chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, said. "They are helping each other. We have a lot to build back. We have to put our lives back together."
The completion of the bridge is the first leg in what will be a long journey to rebuild Hatteras Island.
"What it means tonight is that you can get in your car and you can go to Nags Head," Judge added. "You can go shopping or you can see a movie. You can go to your doctor's appointments easily."
People here not only lost touch with the mainland, but millions of dollars in revenue.
"September is an extremely valuable month in our economy," Judge explained.
The N.C. Highway 12 bridge is only temporary. Engineers hope a permanent solution will be ready by 2016.
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