May 11, 2012
UPDATE: Extra ferry runs added at Swan Quarter
through Monday; dredge hopes to cut new channel



Additional ferry runs will take place this Saturday, Sunday and Monday on the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route to aid travelers affected by suspension of the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry runs because of extreme shoaling of the Hatteras Inlet. The new Motor Vessel Sea Level that was christened today will be used on the new runs.
 

Additional runs will depart as follows on Saturday, May 12, Sunday, May 13 and Monday, May 14:
 
• From Swan Quarter at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m.
• From Ocracoke at 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
 
Ferries will also depart at the following times as regularly scheduled:

• From Swan Quarter at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
• From Ocracoke at 7 a.m. and 12:45 p.m.


The Ferry Division will continue to monitor the channel and could possibly extend the extra runs. Also, Ocracoke and Hatteras residents can ride toll free on a space available basis until the channel is clear. They are asked to make a reservation and provide proof of residency.
 
It was announced earlier this week that travelers using the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route could encounter delays, load weight restrictions, and possible suspensions due to extreme shoaling of the Hatteras Inlet channel. Suspensions have occurred daily.
 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to resolve the problem, as the channel falls under federal jurisdiction.

Roger Bullock, chief of navigation for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District, said in an interview late this afternoon that the sidecaster dredge Merritt should be arriving at Hatteras late this evening and will begin work tomorrow.

Bullock said that the Corps surveyed an alternate channel last week and again on Wednesday.

The Rollinson Channel, he said, seems to be trying to change its course and straighten itself out as it moves the water in and out of the inlet.  Between last week and Wednesday, he said, there was “considerable improvement” in the new area the Corps is eyeing for a perhaps a safer and more stable channel.

It would remove the “dog leg” that now exists in the channel and takes it though an area with strong cross currents, which contribute to the continual shoaling.

The Corps has dredged the channel several times since Hurricane Irene last August, most recently in March.  Each time, the sand has come back into the channel.

If the captain of the Merritt thinks the dredge can work in the area where the new channel wants to form, Bullock said, the Corps will pursue the new course rather than dredging the old channel yet again.

The Merritt, he said, will have 12 days on the dredging job, and the time is flexible, he said.

“We want to be sure we leave Hatteras with a channel,” he added.


FOR MORE INFORMATION

 Travelers can make a reservation for the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route by calling 800-BY-FERRY (293-3779) and pressing 2 or online at www.ncferry.org.
 
For updates, sign up to receive messages on Twitter by going to www.twitter.com/ncdot_ferry. Additional information is also available by calling the Swan Quarter Terminal at 252-926-1513. For more information on the status of the Hatteras-Ocracoke route, call the Hatteras terminal at 252-986-2353.


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