Highway 12

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North Carolina 12 constitutes a lengthy coastal route extending north from U.S. 70 at Sea Level to Cape Hatteras, Bodie Island, and Corolla. The state route utilizes ferry service to access both ends of Ocracoke Island.

The bulk of North Carolina 12 across Ocracoke, Hatteras and Pea Islands navigates through Cape Hatteras National Seashore. North from Nags Head to Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina 12 travels through built up areas along the Atlantic Ocean on Virginia Dare Trail, the former route of U.S. 158. The route extends 21 miles north along Bodie Island, from the U.S. 158 western turn across Currituck Sound, to the community of Corolla.

Damage from Hurricane Irene on August 27, 2011 washed out several sections of North Carolina 12 between Pimlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. New inlets created between the two bodies of water were as wide as 100 feet and deep as 8 feet. Ferry service was started to Hatteras due to the road closure.

A 662 foot long truss bridge was quickly built over one of the new inlets and opened by October 11, 2011, restoring access to Rodanthe, Salvo and Waves.1 Despite legal hurdles due to environmental concerns to 2016, the long term replacement project of the Oregon Inlet Bridge advanced.

The Bonner Bridge Replacement Project constructs a new 3,500 long high rise span across Oregon Inlet. Work on the $246 million project formally commenced on March 13, 2016.

Overall construction, including the demolition of the old Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, runs through September 2019. The new two-lane span with full outside shoulders will open to traffic in November 2018.

North Carolina Route 12 North
Descending from the Oregon Inlet Bridge crest over North Point on North Carolina 12 north. Walter Slough and Herring Shoal Island are visible in the distance. Photo taken 12/16/01.
Northbound reassurance shield posted along the Outer Banks Scenic Byway of North Carolina 12 within Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Bodie Island Lighthouse resides just west of this location. 8.2 miles separate the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge from the north end of the National Seashore at Virginia Dale Trail and U.S. 64. Photo taken 12/16/01.
U.S. 64, 264, & 158 shields posted at the North Carolina 12 exit of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Virginia Dare Trail enters from Roanoke Island via U.S. 64 to the west and continues along North Carolina 12 toward the northeast along the beaches. A connector links North Carolina 12 directly with U.S. 158's westbound beginning as well. Photo taken 12/26/00.
North Carolina 12 transitions from Cape Hatteras National Seashore Road onto Virginia Dare Trail north. U.S. 64 begins and travels west to Manteo, Manns Harbor, Raleigh and ultimately Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. U.S. 158 follows Croatan Highway north to Kill Devil Hills and Kitty Hawk. The highway continues to Elizabeth City and ultimately to Mocksville. Photo taken 12/26/00.
Two to three blocks separate North Carolina 12 along Virginia Dare Trail with the Croatan Highway (U.S. 158). U.S. 158 constitutes a busy commercial arterial, carrying five overall lanes from Whalebone Junction to Martin's Point. Virginia 12 offers a slower two-lane drive along the beach. Photo taken 12/16/01.
North Carolina 12 ends at the Ocean Trail transition to NC SSR 1437 at Corolla. SSR 1437 provides access to the North Beach Access Road, a four-wheel drive restricted road leading 2.5 miles north to Carava. Photo taken 04/01/01.
North Carolina Route 12 South
North Carolina 12 (Virginia Dare Trail) veers southwest from the beaches to U.S. 64 and 158 (Croatan Highway) after its split with Old Oregon Inlet Road. U.S. 64 begins ahead and continues Virginia Dare Trail west onto Cedar and Pond Islands to the Washington Baum Bridge. Old Oregon Inlet Bridge heads 4.9 miles south, rejoining North Carolina 12 within the National Seashore. Photo taken 04/01/01.
Oregon Inlet Bridge
The Herbert C. Bonner Bridge leaves the northern shores of Hatteras Island across Oregon Inlet. Sidewalks included along the southern reaches of the bridge allow views of Oregon Inlet. The two lane span opened in 1964. Photo taken 12/16/01.
Looking north at the Oregon Inlet Bridge from the west side of the span. North Carolina 12 travels 2.7 miles on the bridge. Photo taken 12/16/01.


  1. "State puts N.C. 12 back together." The News & Observer, October 6, 2011.

Photo Credits:

12/26/00, 04/01/01, 12/16/01 by AARoads

Connect with:
U.S. 64
U.S. 158

Page Updated 02-13-2018.