Posted on March 29, 2023
A year-long project managed by the NCDOT is underway near one Eastern Carolina shoreline to help protect a causeway that is vulnerable to erosion.
The N.C. 24 Causeway in Swansboro is an important hurricane evacuation route and connector between coastal communities and military installations. But due to problems with erosion, a $2 million construction project is in the works.
To help protect the N.C. 24 Causeway, the NCDOT is working on a living shoreline that will include a salt marsh planted over a quarter of an acre, 900 feet of granite rock to break the waves and protect the salt marsh, and a 3-D coconut fiber and cement structure that will attract oysters to the area.
From creating a more diverse fisheries habitat to helping improve water quality, living shorelines can be found throughout the state, but this is the first one to be managed by the NCDOT.
“The N.C. 24 Causeway here has been vulnerable to extreme storm events in the past and has suffered some damage on numerous occasions. This project for DOT really represents our commitment to looking into and considering nature-based solutions for providing resiliency and climate adaptations in our state’s highway infrastructure,” Living Shoreline Project Manager and member of the NCDOT’s Hydraulics Unit, Brain Lipscomb said.
The Causeway’s foundation is vulnerable to erosion from waves and hurricane flooding from the White Oak River and the living shoreline will help create a more sound structure for the roadway.
“Living shorelines have proven time and time again to work significantly better, are more cost-effective, and more resilient to the effects of storms compared to the traditionally used bulkheads that have hardened our shorelines and reduced our valuable salt marshes and oyster habitats in the process,” NC Coastal Federation Living Shoreline Program Director Dr. Lexia Weaver said.
The Coastal Federation says that they want to make living shorelines the new normal for shoreline stabilizing. Dr. Lexia Weaver says that the NCDOT is helping make that happen.
“We are so very thankful for the DOT’s commitment and decision to pursue this more resilient and environmentally friendly approach to erosion control.”
300 feet of living shoreline has already been built, with 500 more feet to come this year, all to help keep the causeway clear.
The project will also include repairs to the existing sidewalk, grass shoulder, and the addition of more granite stone on the existing embankment.
Construction on the living shoreline began in December of 2022 and is scheduled to be finished by this summer.
The NCDOT says that the project was made possible by funding from The North Carolina General Assembly, funds from the NCDOT Bridge Maintenance Unit, and a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that was awarded to the NC Coastal Federation.