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PEA ISLAND, NC (AP) — North Carolina transportation officials planning for the arrival of Hurricane Irene say they are prepared for damage to the main highway and bridge serving the Outer Banks.

DOT spokeswoman Nicole Meister said Wednesday that workers are positioning heavy equipment on Hatteras Island to keep NC 12 open as long as it is safe for crews to work. The island highway is routinely covered with water and sand during big storms.

Immediately after the storm, workers will inspect the aging Bonner Bridge. The two-lane span is the only link to the mainland for Outer Banks residents. Meister says the bridge will not be opened unless engineers are sure it is safe.

Ferries will be standing by to handle vehicle traffic if the road remains closed following the hurricane.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-08-24-11 1228EDT

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