State transportation officials are prepared for Ian and are urging people to avoid any unnecessary travel starting today, Friday, September 30, into the weekend.
“This storm could make travel treacherous in North Carolina,” said J. Eric Boyette, North Carolina’s Transportation Secretary. “Please monitor your local weather and if you don’t need to be on the roads, stay home.”
More than 2,200 N.C. Department of Transportation employees in all 100 counties have prepared equipment for possible clearing efforts, repairs and pipe replacements after the storm passes.
NCDOT has readied 374 backhoes and loaders, 223 motor graders, 1,436 chainsaws and 1,371 trucks so they can clear downed trees and other debris from roads as soon as possible. Transportation crews have also ensured dozens of portable generators are ready, and that traffic services offices are staging message boards. Also, crews have loaded emergency trailers with 4,623 barricades, 3,698 high water signs and 2,749 road closure signs so they can be deployed as needed.
Staff have also examined flood-prone areas to ensure grates, storm drains and culverts are clear. Crews in some flood-prone areas have been staging equipment to expedite the state’s response. NCDOT staff have also instructed contractors on active construction projects to secure cones and message boards due to possible high winds. Road construction statewide will be paused due to severe weather impacts.
NCDOT divisions have arranged to have staff on-call to respond around-the-clock throughout the weekend and have placed contractors on standby.
Once NCDOT crews can assess the damage, the agency will work to get roads open as quickly as possible and will use emergency contracts if needed.
“Until it is safe, people should stay off the roads in storm-affected areas,” said Joey Hopkins, NCDOT’s chief operating officer. “Don’t drive through roads with standing water, and never drive around barricades. They are there to protect you.”
Safe driving tips can be found at ncdot.gov.
New advance flood-warning system
This storm will mark the first time North Carolina officials will use the state’s new advanced flood-warning system during a major weather event. The system relies on data from a network of 400 river and stream gauges so NCDOT and State Emergency Management officials can analyze, map and communicate in real-time any flood risks to roads, bridges and culverts. The system will enable NCDOT to know more quickly where and when to close roads and alert first responders and the public. Real-time travel updates can be found at DriveNC.Gov.
In recent weeks, NCDOT staff flew a drone mission from Ocracoke to Kitty Hawk to obtain overhead video of dune conditions. These will be used to conduct any post-damage assessments. The Division of Aviation is also monitoring the status of North Carolina’s public airports so state and federal officials will know which airports can be accessed for relief efforts.
State Ferry Division officials ended the Ocracoke Express’ 2022 seasonal passenger ferry service after the 7:30 p.m. departure Wednesday, two days earlier than originally planned. Officials also suspended service on the Cedar Island-Ocracoke, Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and the Southport-Fort Fisher routes Thursday due to weather conditions. The Hatteras-Ocracoke vehicle ferry is now on a limited schedule due to high wind conditions. Other North Carolina ferry routes will likely be impacted as the weather deteriorates. Travelers are urged to check on their route’s status via the Twitter feeds found ncferry.orgunder the heading “Current Conditions” or call their route’s terminal office before arriving. Staff at all seven ferry terminals are checking fuel supplies, generators and testing radios. Ferries not in service have been secured.
Amtrak has suspended some services that operate through North Carolina serving southern Georgia and Florida. Please visit Amtrak.com for updates. NCDOT Rail and Amtrak officials will continue to monitor weather conditions to determine whether to make any schedule changes. For the latest updates on NC By Train passenger train schedules, call 1-800-BY-TRAIN or check NCByTrain.org.
Due to anticipated high winds, the North Carolina Ports Authority will pause vessel operations Friday in Wilmington and Morehead City.
Division of Motor Vehicles
The Division of Motor Vehicles is monitoring conditions and could close some offices Friday afternoon in impacted areas. Closures and changes to office hours can be found on the NCDMV office locations page. Many driver and vehicle services are available online at the official NCDMV website, MyNCDMV.gov.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.