UPDATE 7/4 3:30 p.m.: Around 11 a.m. Friday, NCDOT conducted a sonar scan of the Bonner Bridge, which was closed Thursday and connects Hatteras to the rest of the state.
The crews finished around 2 p.m. and are analyzing the data. They hope to have results Friday afternoon. If the scan comes back clean, they'll begin steps to allow traffic back on the bridge.
If the scan comes back inconclusive, they'll send divers down to inspect the support structures.
OUTER BANKS, NC -- The Bonner Bridge in Dare County has been closed as a precaution until it can be inspected following Hurricane Arthur, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory announced in a press briefing Thursday evening.
McCrory said the state will send check the pilings of the bridge using sonar to make sure it's safe before re-opening it.
Coastal flooding, moderate storm surge, dangerous rip currents, heavy surf and moderate beach erosion are expected.
“We are closely monitoring the track of the storm and prepositioning search and rescue personnel, National Guardsmen and equipment in areas where we expect the greatest impact,” said Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “Our priority is to provide for the safety of all first responders and the general public for the duration of the event.”
Access into Dare County is restricted Friday until preliminary assessments can be completed to determine that conditions are safe for travel. Restrictions will be lifted as quickly as the assessment can be completed. Access to Hatteras Island will remain closed until further notice.
Emergency management officials said they now expect NC12 will be affected by the storm.
"Based upon the current forecast, we expect Hurricane Arthur will impact NC12 south of the Bonner Bridge down to Ocracoke Island," McCrory said. "It's 12 yards wide and most likely we will have water over that road in a short amount of time.
NCDOT spokesman Tim Hass they have equipment up and down the Outer Banks.
"We're ready to respond when and if there is a breach."
Hass said emergency planners expected sand and overwash on Highway 12, the primary lifeline through much of the Outer Banks. Dozens of excavators, backhoes and motograders are ready to quickly clear the road of those hazards. It will take more time, though, is if the highway is breached.
A breach of the highway will effectively split the Outer Banks in two. The potential hazards to NC12 is partly what prompted emergency officials to order a mandatory evacuation from Hatteras Island.
If the highway is breached Hass said the emergency ferry ramps at Stumpy Point and Rodanthe have both been checked along with the channel between the two. They can be used to get people on and off the island.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation spent much of Thursday staging equipment and preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Arthur.
Crews readied equipment in Ocracoke, Buxton and Pea Island south of the Bonner Bridge and in Kitty Hawk in the northern Outer Banks.
Dorothy Killingsworth, a spokeswoman for Dare County, said the storm's forecast is even worse than predicted and urged all residents to leave the island before nightfall.
"We don't know what the road conditions will be," Killingsworth said. "Certainly DOT has staged their equipment but until the storm passes, there's no way of knowing how much the roads will be affected, so access could certainly be an issue."
Killingsworth said those who ignore the evacuation order should be prepared to sustain themselves for at least three days.
McCrory warned citizens and visitors that darkness causes more concerns and said damage cannot be fully assessed until morning.
"We strongly encourage that you stay inside and wait until [Hurricane Arthur] passes," McCrory said.
Hass said crews plan to get to work as soon as the storm passes.
"We will do our work as quickly as we can. We want people to get back to the beaches as quickly as we possibly can, safely."