Living Shoreline and Resiliency Project

The Town of Duck hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, May 22, 2024 to commemorate the completion of the Living Shoreline and Resiliency Project that took place along Duck Road (NC-12). Funded in part by the Dare County Soil and Water Conservation, Dare County Tourism Board, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, North Carolina Division of Emergency Management, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, this project marks a significant step forward in safeguarding the Town’s coastline along the Currituck Sound and bolstering community resilience. 

Components of the project include: the elevation of NC-12 to reduce flooding, restoration of the native marsh to protect the shoreline and improve natural habitat, addition of a bicycle/ pedestrian connection on the west side of the project area, and stormwater management improvements to reduce flooding and enhance water quality. 

Comments made by Mayor Don Kingston, Senior Planner Sandy Cross, Planning and Design Project Manager of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin (VHB) Richard Wiatt, and Fred Smith Company Superintendent Timmy Thomas took place at the project site, followed by the ribbon cutting and short reception.

View photos of the completed project in the gallery below.

Background Information

N.C. Highway 12 (NC 12) is a vital community lifeline as the only north-south roadway through the Town of Duck and north to Corolla, providing daily traffic needs, pedestrian and bicycle access, emergency vehicle access, and storm evacuation. Portions of NC 12 are subject to flooding from both runoff from heavy rains and inundation by storm surge from the Currituck Sound. These flooding events prohibit north-south travel through and within the Town, blocking daily travel, emergency vehicles, the evacuation route, and pedestrian and bicycle travel. This issue is particularly acute in areas where NC 12 runs adjacent to the Sound at low elevations. This segment of Hwy 12 was identified as the most vulnerable stretch of public roadway in Duck by the Vulnerability Assessment conducted by the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University.

Raising the elevation of this stretch of Hwy 12 is also listed as an important goal of the Town’s adopted Hazard Mitigation Plan. Over recent decades, coastal wetlands along the adjoining shoreline have substantially eroded, resulting in a loss of marsh habitat and shoreline.  In addition to the environmental benefits, the need to stabilize and protect this shoreline goes hand-in-hand with the road elevation project to improve the resiliency of NC 12.

As part of the Town’s Comprehensive Pedestrian Plan, phased infrastructure projects have been occurring whereby sidewalks have been added to both sides of NC 12 throughout Duck Village in conjunction with widening existing road shoulders to formal bike lanes.  Three phases of this construction have been completed, providing important safety enhancements and transportation alternatives for those traveling within Duck Village.  A fourth phase extending the west side improvements to the existing crosswalk at Sunset Grille has been designed.

The Town of Duck’s Living Shoreline & Resiliency Project is intended to address all these goals and issues through the construction of a comprehensive coastal resiliency project.


Watch the video below to learn more about the project.


Listen to Episode Two of The Sitting Duck: A Town of Duck Podcast for an interview with Senior Planner Sandy Cross as she talks about the importance of the project and what it means for the future of the Town.

Listen by playing the podcast below or on the following platforms:
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This multi-faceted coastal resiliency project includes the construction of near-shore sills in the Currituck Sound to reduce wave energy and protect coastal wetlands; replanting/restoration of coastal wetland habitat; installation of a stone revetment to protect the shoreline and NC 12; extension of sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of NC 12; raising the elevation of NC 12 to reduce flooding and maintain this important connection to areas north of Duck Village; and installing stormwater management improvements to reduce flooding and improve water quality.
Over decades, the project area has seen substantial erosion of the coastal wetlands protecting the shoreline. There was a low-lying stretch of NC 12 nearly a quarter-mile in length at the northern end of Duck Village that now routinely experiences flooding from Currituck Sound. The need to address these issues was identified in the Town’s vulnerability assessment and hazard mitigation plan. The living shoreline enhancements, shoreline protection measures, and road elevation will lessen the likelihood of flooding and improve the resiliency of this important stretch of highway.
The project area encompasses an approximate one quarter-mile area at the northern end of Duck Village. The near-shore sills, marsh restoration, and shoreline protection elements of the project extend along the Currituck Sound shoreline between the former Resort Realty property and Sunset Grille. The road elevation and stormwater management improvements are within a 1,500-foot stretch of NC 12 right-of-way from Cook Drive to Barrier Island Station. The sidewalk/bike lane improvements along the west side of NC 12 are from the former Resort Realty property to the existing crosswalk at Sunset Grille.
The project began mid-October 2023 and was completed in May 2024.
The project area Includes 1,500 linear feet within the NC 12 corridor, from the former Resort Realty building located at 1248 Duck Road to Sunset Grille at 1264 Duck Road. This section of the roadway is immediately adjacent to the Currituck Sound, and ranges in elevation from approximately 2.5' mean sea level to approximately 5' mean sea level. The shoreline includes sections of coastal wetlands, eroding areas, and riprap stabilizing the shoreline adjoining NC 12. East of the roadway developed residential lots and neighborhood streets slope upward dramatically and quickly. Project elements include a Living Shoreline, pedestrian and bicycle Infrastructure, roadway elevation, and drainage Improvements.
Funding sources for this very important coastal resiliency project include generous grant funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency, N.C. Department of Public Safety, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, Dare County Tourism Board, Dare County Soil & Water Conservation. Other important project partners include the property owners and neighborhood associations that provided easements for construction in the project area. Fred Smith Company was the construction company to perform the work.
Please see the following Annual Retreat presentations by VHB: February 2023 February 2022 February 2021 
Any questions about the NC 12 Living Shoreline & Coastal Resiliency Project can be directed to Community Development Director Joe Heard at and/or Senior Planner Sandy Cross at