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Rodanthe beach renourishment to cost millions more than expected

Dare County leaders say they can only afford the $40 million project with help from the state and federal government.

RODANTHE, N.C. — A beach nourishment project on North Carolina's Outer Banks would cost millions more than Dare County leaders initially guessed.

Four homes have fallen into the ocean in the past year in the Town of Rodanthe where the beach is rapidly eroding. People living there say something needs to be done.

But the potential fix just got pricier.

"It was $10 million more expensive than what we guessed at the time," said Dare County Manager Bobby Outten. 

Outten is talking about a new feasibility study from "Coastal Science and Engineering" that found a beach nourishment project in Rodanthe would cost $40 million.

And that’s just to dredge sand from the ocean floor to replenish almost six miles of beach. It would require maintenance every five years, costing about $175 million over 30 years.

“We don’t have the dollars in our fund balance to afford to do this project or maintain it in the future," Outten said. 

In January, Rodanthe residents packed a town hall meeting to call for beach nourishment.

Since that meeting, another home collapsed into the ocean in March, becoming the fourth to fall since February 2022. 

Meanwhile, other vulnerable homes still straddle the eroding coastline as county leaders work to find the funds for a fix.

“If projects are going to be done in Rodanthe, there is going to have to be another funding source to help us do the project," Outten said. "That was the message from January and that remains the message today." 

There are talks underway right now at the federal and state level to try and get money for beach nourishment in Rodanthe.

With a price tag of $40 million, Outten said that could be the only way to afford the project.

We reached out to Congressman Greg Murphy (R-NC), who represents the Outer Banks in Washington, to get his take on potential federal funding. 

His office told us in a statement: “Congressman Murphy has personally visited Rodanthe on multiple occasions. He has talked with Dare County Commissioners as well as the Park Service and, as of now, he has not received any requests for federal funding. He will continue to talk to local and state officials, especially since the new feasibility study has been released.”

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