KILL DEVIL HILLS and BUXTON, NC – Outer Banks Forever, the official nonprofit partner of the three Outer Banks national parks, and Cape Hatteras National Seashore broke ground for the new Cape Hatteras Lighthouse multiuse pathway at 11 a.m. (ET) on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
The groundbreaking ceremony began at 10:30 a.m. and included David Hallac, Superintendent of the National Parks of Eastern North Carolina; Steven Torgerson, Landscape Architect with the National Park Service; Jessica Barnes, Director of Outer Banks Forever; Trip Forman, Co-Founder of REAL Watersports and President of the Outer Banks Forever Board of Directors; Babur Mian, President and CEO of Terra Site Constructors, LLC, of Front Royal, Virginia; and Laura Ertle, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative.
“It has taken us a little while to get around to it, but in some ways, I’m glad that we did because now we’re doing it with friends, with community members, and we’re doing it the right way,” said Hallac, as quoted in an article from The Island Free Press. “We’re proud to have the opportunity to build this trail from Highway 12 to the lighthouse.”
The new pathway is the result of a public-private partnership between Outer Banks Forever, the National Park Service, the Federal Highway Administration and members of the Outer Banks community and beyond. Outer Banks Forever’s donors and sponsors contributed $360,000 to the project.
“We launched our organization in April 2019 so we started at a place where we had no donors – we were brand new,” said Barnes. “In just four and half years we have been able to build just such a groundswell of support for our OBX national parks. So, to be able to take on projects and raise money for [them] – it’s incredibly exciting.”
Each year, millions of people visit the Seashore, and many make a point of visiting the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Considered one of the most iconic lighthouses in the country, the lighthouse site in Buxton, North Carolina, is beloved for its beautiful beach and is a top surfing destination on the East Coast. When families, local children and surfers come to visit the lighthouse and Old Lighthouse Beach, they often take in the sights, sounds and stories on foot or by bicycle. Currently, the only way to do this is to travel alongside vehicular traffic on Lighthouse Road.
“Whether you’re talking about surfing, kite surfing, windsurfing, foil boarding, ocean kayaking, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding – the list goes on and on as far as the number of sports that this area is internationally recognized for,” said Forman. “Obviously we’re one of the top tourist attractions in the U.S. with a huge supportive local community surrounding it… and these improvements have been a long time coming for this area, so we’re really excited about [this project] and what it’s going to bring to all users of the [national] park.”
Running parallel along Lighthouse Road off NC Highway 12 and leading to the grounds of the Cape Hatteras Light Station and the Old Lighthouse Beach Access, the new 1.25-mile-long pathway will offer park visitors a safer way to access the beach, the current lighthouse site and points in between.
In addition to the multi-use path itself, Outer Banks Forever is currently raising funds to build a restroom facility at the Old Lighthouse Beach access to replace the outdated and inconvenient port-o-potties at this popular beach and surfing location.
Now that construction has begun, the new multi-use path is expected to be open for public use by spring 2024.
Outer Banks Forever would like to thank these lead donors and sponsors for their generous support:
Outer Banks Visitors Bureau
Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative
The Bray Family
Quotations Credit: All quotations are from “Work officially begins on the new Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Pathway with groundbreaking ceremony” by Joy Crist, Editor of The Island Free Press.
Photo Credit: Cape Hatteras National Seashore – Ranger A. Lapp