After a longer than anticipated permit process, the county is finally getting approvals to improve the Ocean Pearl Road. It's a start. Below is an article from the Virginia Pilot's Jeff Hampton.
N.C. county to spend $300K to tame massive potholes
Ocean Pearl Road, the unpaved artery of the four-wheel-drive area in the northern Outer Banks, was built in the 1960s. One three-mile section has about 75 potholes. After years of wrangling, Currituck County plans to spend $300,000 on repairs, with the blessing of the Army Corps of Engineers. Related
•On N.C. road, potholes are so big, they're wetlands - Jan. 9
By Jeff Hampton
© October 15, 2011
CAROVA BEACH, N.C.
Talk about tough road work.
Currituck County has the job of filling 75 potholes - but not your typical dips in the road that do little more than throw off the alignment on your front end. Some of these are big enough to swallow a truck and vintage enough to be classified as landmarks.
After at least 20 years of trying, the county finally plans to spend about $300,000 to fill and grade a three-mile section of Ocean Pearl Road, an unpaved primary route within the four-wheel-drive area of the Currituck Outer Banks.
"I can sum it up in one word," said Currituck Commissioner Vance Aydlett: "Hallelujah."
The Army Corps of Engineers anticipates issuing a permit for the work soon, corps spokesman Hank Heusinkveld said.
Built in the 1960s, Ocean Pearl runs parallel to the dunes past the community's only cluster of mailboxes and the only fire station.
One after another, potholes developed and then grew - some 50 feet wide, 50 feet long and up to 4 feet deep - making the road impassable after a hard rainstorm. Even large four-wheel-drive trucks stalled out and became partially submerged.
One pothole recognized as the granddaddy of them all is at the intersection of Ocean Pearl and Bluefish Lane. It measures nearly a tenth of an acre. Four-wheeling enthusiasts test their trucks against the depth and breadth of this chasm.
Over the years, full-time residents have resisted supporting road projects. Instead, they put up with pond-size potholes specifically so the area would remain difficult to traverse and, thus, less accessible to outsiders. More recently, federal wetlands regulations have hampered upgrades.
But after Tropical Storm Ernesto in 2006, dozens of renters were stranded and emergency vehicles could not get through. Afterward, underground phone lines surfaced and were crushed beneath the big tires of vehicles, knocking out service to several homes.
Carova residents, many of them retired and with health concerns, have come around and now are willing to see part of Ocean Pearl repaired.
"You just can't get anyplace fast," said Sonia Mays, an emergency medical employee and volunteer firefighter. "We need Ocean Pearl fixed for rescues and evacuation."
Other parallel roads, such as Sandfiddler and Sandpiper, are more narrow than Ocean Pearl and flood just as badly. Short roads running east and west are no more than single-lane dirt paths often blocked by limbs of wild live-oak trees.
Locals have used heavy equipment to scrape the road themselves several times over the years, but without a better base the holes return quickly, Mays said.
The county broke the stalemate with the corps by limiting wetlands disturbance and doing away with designs to drain the road to nearby creeks, Aydlett said.
Even so, a 150-foot section marked as wetlands within the three-mile project will be left unimproved. On top of that, Ocean Pearl south of where the project ends at Wild Horse Lane may never get upgraded. The corps has declared that section - where there are more potholes than high ground - almost entirely wetlands, vexing locals and the county.
"Heaven forbid if a cattail grows in the middle of the road; it becomes a wetland," Mays said.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Posted by Jason Summerton at 9:04 AM