North Carolina Highway 12
Route of NC 12 highlighted in red; approximate ferry routes in blue
|Maintained by NCDOT|
|Length||148 mi (238 km)|
|Existed||1962 – present|
|Outer Banks Scenic Byway|
|South end||US 70 in Sea Level|
NC 45 in Ocracoke|
US 64 / US 158 in Nags Head
US 158 in Kitty Hawk
|North end||North Beach Access Ramp in Corolla|
|Counties||Carteret, Hyde, Dare, Currituck|
North Carolina Highway 12 (NC 12) is a 148.0-mile-long (238.2 km) primary state highway in the U.S. state of North Carolina, linking the peninsulas and islands of the northern Outer Banks. Most sections of NC 12 are two lanes wide, and there are also two North Carolina Ferry System routes which maintain continuity of the route as it traverses the Outer Banks region. NC 12 is part of the Outer Banks Scenic Byway, a National Scenic Byway. The first NC 12 appeared on the 1924 North Carolina Official Map and at its height ran from NC 30 in Pollocksville to NC 48 near Murfreesboro. Over time it was replaced by both US 258 and NC 58 and ceased to exist in 1958. The current NC 12 first appeared on the 1964 state highway map running from US 158 in Nags Head to Ocracoke. In 1976 NC 12 was extended to US 70 on the mainland and in 1987 was extended north to Corolla.
North Carolina Highway 12 begins at US 70 at the unincorporated community of Sea Level. From there NC 12 travels Northeast along Cedar Island Road to Cedar Island. Once the road enters Cedar Island it turns northwest running along the Cedar Bay all the way to the Cedar Island-Ocracoke ferry. After arriving at Ocracoke the road immediately runs along the western side of Silver Lake in the eastern side of the town. After leaving Ocracoke NC 12 enters the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. NC 12 runs along the middle of the island all the way until it reaches the Cape Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry in Point Beach.
After arriving at Hatteras Village, NC 12 turns left onto Coast Guard Road. The road follows Coast Guard Road along the northern part of the town before turning back into NC 12. It then runs along a narrow strip of land in the middle of the island before going through Frisco. After passing through Frisco the road goes north of the Buxton Woods Coastal Reserve before going through Buxton and passing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Continuing northward it passes through the communities of Avon, Salvo, Waves, and Rodanthe. It crosses the New Inlet bridge (the inlet reopened by Hurricane Irene in 2011) and a few miles north the Herbert C. Bonner bridge over Oregon Inlet, separating Pea Island from Bodie Island. Nearby is the Bodie Island Lighthouse and visitor center. NC 12 then continues north, where it intersects US 64 and US 158 south of the town of Nags Head. NC 12 runs through Nags Head along the Virginia Dare Trail just east of US 158. The road continues north through Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores. NC 12 enters Corolla along Ocean Trail and continues along the west bank through the town. NC 12 ends just north of Corolla and south of the Currituck Banks North Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve.
The highway is the easternmost primary route in the state.
Outer Banks Scenic Byway
The Outer Banks Scenic Byway begins at the intersection of US 70 and Merrimon Road. The Outer Banks Scenic Byway follows US 70 East to NC 12 on Cedar Island. The byway then continues onto NC 12 North near Atlantic. The byway then crosses the Ocracoke-Cedar Island Ferry north. It follows NC 12 north the rest of the way to the intersection of US 64 and NC 12 in Nags Head where it has its northern terminus. The Outer Banks Scenic Byway spans approximately 131 miles and takes about 6 hours to drive.
NC 12 first appeared on the 1924 State highway map running from Kinston to NC 40 south of Halifax. NC 12 went from Kinston northwest to Snow Hill where it met up with NC 102. From there the road went north to Farmville where it met up with NC 91. From there it continued north to Scotland Neck passing through Tarboro. In Scotland Neck NC 12 turned to the west and ended at NC 40 south of Halifax. By 1933, NC 12 was rerouted to Rich Square and extended south to US 17/NC 30; at the same time, US 258 was routed along of the routing of NC 12 north of Kinston. By 1935, NC 12 was truncated to Kinston with US 258 getting the routing north of Kinston. In 1958 the last portion of NC 12 south of Kinston was renumbered as NC 58
The current NC 12 shows up on the 1964 map running from Ocracoke to Whalebone. In 1976 NC 12 was extended onto the mainland to connect with US 70 In 1987, NC 12 was extended north of Nags Head along the Virginia Dare Trail (then Business US 158) NC 12 was extended further to Corolla, its present northern terminus, a year later.. A condition of the extension imposed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation is the road extends no further than Corolla.
Hatteras Island was cut in two on September 18, 2003 by Hurricane Isabel which opened a new inlet 3,000 feet (910 m) wide and 30 feet (9.1 m) deep through the community of Hatteras Village on the southern end of Hatteras Island. This new inlet was temporarily named the Isabel Inlet after the hurricane. Road access along NC 12 was temporarily severed until the island was repaired and restored by sand pumped ashore by the Army Corps of Engineers. In 2007, Subtropical Storm Andrea caused high winds to push waves over dunes and onto the highway on Hatteras Island, leaving water a foot deep and sand 2 to 3 feet (0.91 m) deep in some places.
NC 12 was severed in two places by Hurricane Irene in late August 2011. The road was breached by two small inlets, about 200 feet (61 m) across apiece, in the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge, and north of Rodanthe. As a result, the only way to access Hatteras Island was by ferry. On October 10, 2011, a temporary bridge opened over the largest breach. The bridge, which was 662 feet (202 m) long, was replaced in 2017 by an adjacent, more permanent structure. Meanwhile, the inlet has closed.
As Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast in October 2012, it has left portions of NC 12 inundated with salt water and sand. That forced the closure of the road, leaving the remaining people on the Outer Banks isolated from mainland North Carolina.
Sandy washed out a portion of the road at the S-curves north of Rodanthe on the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge. Emergency ferry service was established betwee Rodanthe and the Stumpy Point terminals. As in 2011, the ferry service became the lifeline for Hatteras Island. Noreasters and storms repeatedly caused breaches since the road was repaired in December 2012. A state of emergency was declared and $20.8 million of emergency federal funding was secured to construct a more permanent repair.
|Carteret||Sea Level||0.0||0.0||US 70 – Beaufort, Atlantic|
|Pamlico Sound||12.0||19.3||Cedar Island–Ocracoke Ferry|
|Hyde||Ocracoke||32.0||51.5||NC 45 north – Swan Quarter||Southern terminus of NC 45|
|Pamlico Sound||45.7||73.5||Cape Hatteras–Ocracoke Ferry|
|Dare||Oregon Inlet||99.0||159.3||Herbert C. Bonner Bridge|
|Nags Head||110.3||177.5||US 64 west / US 158 west – Manteo, Elizabeth City||Whalebone Junction|
|Kitty Hawk||125.5||202.0||US 158 – Nags Head, Elizabeth City, Norfolk|
|Currituck||Corolla||148.0||238.2||North Beach Access Ramp|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
- North Carolina Bicycle Route 7 – Concurrent with NC 12 from US 70 to the Cedar Island–Ocracoke Ferry
- Google (August 15, 2012). "North Carolina Highway 12" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved August 15, 2012.
- State Transportation Map (Map) (2013–14 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina Department of Transportation. 2013.
- Google. "North Carolina Highway 12" (Map). Google Maps. Google.
- "Outer Banks Scenic Byway - Directions - America's Byways". Federal Highway Administration.
- State Highway System of North Carolina (Map) (1924 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina State Highway Commission. 1924.
- State Highway System of North Carolina (Map) (1933 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina State Highway Commission. 1933.
- State Highway System of North Carolina (Map) (1935 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina State Highway Commission. 1935.
- State Highway System of North Carolina (Map) (1957 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina State Highway Commission. 1957.
- State Highway System of North Carolina (Map) (1958 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina State Highway Commission. 1958.
- North Carolina Highway System (Map) (1964 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina State Highway Commission. 1964.
- North Carolina Official Highway Map (Map) (1975 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina Department of Transportation. 1975.
- North Carolina Official Highway Map (Map) (1976 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina Department of Transportation. 1976.
- North Carolina Official Highway Map (Map) (1986 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina Department of Transportation. 1986.
- North Carolina Official Highway Map (Map) (1987 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina Department of Transportation. 1987.
- North Carolina Official Highway Map (Map) (1988 ed.). Cartography by North Carolina State Tax Commission. North Carolina Department of Transportation. 1988.
- Thibodeau, Ryan. "Outer Banks NC 12". Carolina Designs Real Estate Sales. Carolina Designs Realty. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- "Season's first named storm unleashes band of rain - HamptonRoads.com - PilotOnline.com".
- Fernandes, Deirdre (October 10, 2011). "N.C. 12 has opened, restoring traffic to Hatteras Island". The Virginian-Pilot. Norfolk, Virginia. Retrieved October 11, 2011.
- Stradling, Richard (November 14, 2017). "New NC 12 bridge in Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge is open". The News and Observer. Raleigh, North Carolina. Retrieved September 18, 2018.
- "Hurricane Sandy buckles N.C. 12 on Hatteras Island".
- "Work begins to protect N.C. 12 before next storm hits".