January 6, 2012

UPDATE: Hyde manager gets DOT ferry toll meeting moved to Ocracoke

Hyde County Manager Mazie Smith successfully negotiated with the North Carolina Department of Transportation to hold a public meeting on proposed ferry toll increases on Ocracoke Island. DOT initially proposed the meeting be held in Swan Quarter.
"This is a huge issue that directly affects Ocracoke and we need to make sure all citizens are given a fair chance to comment,'' said Smith. "This is their road."
DOT proposed to accommodate Ocracoke residents by offering extended runs on the Swan Quarter ferry the night of the meeting. But, traveling to the Hyde County seat would create a hardship and inconvenience for many Ocracoke residents, not to mention a very long day. The ferry from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter is a trip that takes about 2 hours each way.

Calculating travel times, Smith pointed out those attending likely wouldn't get back to the island until around midnight. This would make it nearly impossible for elderly citizens and families with children to attend.

"We want as many people there as we can get," said Smith.
According to a N.C. DOT release, the General Assembly mandated ferry revenue to be increased up to $5 million annually. Now, DOT has to raise rates on the three tolled routes and begin tolling two additional routes. Private firm CDM SMITH was hired by DOT to conduct a study regarding current ferry usage, possible ferry toll increases, and improvements necessary to efficiently and effectively impose toll increases and new toll collection.
A presentation of the study has been released by DOT. Click here to view the slideshow.
The meeting in Hyde was originally set for Wednesday, January 18 at 7 p.m. in the Government Center in Swan Quarter. Now, it will be held the same time and date at the Ocracoke School Gym.

In addition to the Hyde meeting, three others will be conducted along the state's coast. Dates, locations, and times are as follows:
--Thursday, Jan. 19, 7 p.m.
Beaufort Community College
5337 U.S. 264 East, Washington
--Monday, Jan. 30, 7 p.m.
Morehead City-Beaufort, NC No. 1710 Elks Lodge
400 Miller Farm Rd., Morehead City
--Tuesday, Jan. 31, 7 p.m.
I.L.A. Union Hall
211 West 10th Street, Southport
For more information, contact Jamille Robbins, NCDOT- Human Environment Unit at 1598 Mail Service Center, Raleigh 27699-1598, (919) 707-6085 or [email protected]. Additional written comments regarding the proposed tolls may be submitted to Robbins until Feb. 10.

Persons who are disabled or may require special services should contact Robbins as early as possible so that arrangements can be made.

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