June 13, 2014
Shorter, traditional ferry route still not
navigable; ferries stay on longer route
By CONNIE LEINBACH
and visitors traveling to Ocracoke will still have a longer ferry ride
between islands since the short route still is not safely navigable,
the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry Division
After the sidecaster dredge Merritt, operated
by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, finished on Thursday, the ferry
division did three test runs in the Rollinson Channel (the short
channel historically used between the islands), and it still is not
deep enough, said Tim Hass, Ferry Division spokesman.
channel is just not deep enough,” Hass said. Ferries between Hatteras
and Ocracoke will continue to operate on the longer, "alternate" route.
In the meantime, the Merritt is in Ocracoke harbor area for scheduled work, Hass said.
wish we had better news, but after several test
runs Thursday, it became clear that the traditional route was
still not navigable," said NCDOT Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin in
a news release issued today.
"Safety is always the highest
priority of the Ferry Division," he said, "and remaining on the longer
route is the best way to ensure the safety of our passengers, crews,
Rudy Austin, president of the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association, said he hopes the short channel can be operable soon.
“They’re working on it as hard as they can,” he said.
Monday, Goodwin and other ferry officials visited Ocracoke for a public
meeting in the Ocracoke School gym and announced that they will hold
meetings on Ocracoke every other month.
“The last seven or eight
years, the dynamics have changed,” said Harold Thomas, an assistant
director in Morehead City, “and we have a more open and volatile inlet.”
Jed Dixon, an assistant director in Manns Harbor, presented a slide show of the shoaling of the inlet in the last 50 years.
Island is losing shoreline around the point closest to Ocracoke, which
is the main concern as that tip has historically protected the channel,
Dixon said. Now, sand is migrating into the channel, particularly so
after hurricanes Irene (2011) and Sandy (2012).
LeBlanc, co-owner of Ocracoke Coffee, asked if there’s a long-term
solution, such as beach nourishment or better dredging.
“I think it could be fixed,” Dixon said, “but if there’s the desire and the will, I can’t say.”
He noted that Dare County has an uphill battle with the continued shoaling of Oregon Inlet.
told about 20 islanders that in the next couple of weeks he will have a
superintendent in place for the summer at the Hatteras ferry dock to
oversee the entire operation there to improve operations. This is
in response to another meeting Goodwin held with selected members of
the Ocracoke business community early in May about their concerns with
“Customer service is critical to me,” Goodwin said,
noting that the superintendent will be accessible for residents’ and
Hatteras Inlet ferry service was forced
onto a longer, "emergency" route Dec. 17 when continued shoaling in the
inlet made the traditional ferry channel no longer navigable. The U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers has made several attempts to dredge the
channel, but it remains too shallow to use safely. The alternate ferry
route is about one hour each way, 20 minutes longer than the
In response to the decision, the Ferry
Division is moving a larger boat to the Hatteras Inlet route and will
add five additional departures from each side beginning June 17,
bringing the total number of runs on each side to 37.
The new schedule, starting Tuesday, will be as follows:
Departing Hatteras: 5:15
a.m., 6:15, 7:45, 8:45, 9, 9:15,
10, 10:15, 10:45, 11:15, 11:30, 11:45, 12:30
p.m., 12:45,1:15, 1:45, 2, 2:15,
3, 3:15, 3:45, 4:15, 4:30, 4:45, 5:30, 5:45, 6:15, 6:45,
8, 8:15, 8:45, 9:15, 9:30, 10:45, 11:45.
Departing Ocracoke South Dock: 5
a.m., 6:30, 7:30, 9,
10, 10:15, 10:30, 11:15, 11:30, noon, 12:30
p.m., 12:45, 1,1:45, 2, 2:30,
3, 3:15, 3:30, 4:15, 4:30, 5, 5:30, 5:45,
6, 6:45, 7, 7:30,
8, 8:15, 8:30, 9:15, 9:30,
10, 10:30, 10:45,midnight.