According to a story posted on the website of the News & Observer in Raleigh on Jan. 13, the North Carolina Board of Transportation has voted to increase fees on ferries currently charging vehicles and to add tolls to several routes that have been free. These new taxes become effective on July 1.
The link to the story is: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/01/12/2602599/board-of-transportation-members.html
The only ferries not to come under the new toll rates on July 1, are the Hatteras-Ocracoke route and the Currituck-Knotts Island route. Some board members, states the story, objected to not charging tolls on the two exempted routes because the Hatteras-Ocracoke route is the most heavily used in the state. If it also was taxed, it would allow reducing the tolls on the other ferries, they argued.
Ocracoke Island is accessible only by ferry — either the taxed ferry from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter on the mainland or via Hatteras Island ferry, which is free. If the Hatteras-Ocracoke route is tolled, there will be no free way to access the island. Ocracoke residents would have to pay to access any other part of the state.
The ferry trip from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter — the county seat for Hyde County that includes the island — takes about 2.5 hours one way. The only “free” transportation corridor is via Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry, then Highway 12 north to Whalebone Junction, west on U.S. 64 to U.S. 264 in Manns Harbor, and then approximately two hours to the county courthouse for a total of about 6 hours.
An interesting story about this issue would answer the following questions:
Please let me know if you find this story. I’m eager to get the answers.
(Sandy Semans Ross, former managing editor of The Outer Banks Sentinel, is a freelance writer who lives in Stumpy Point. You can read more of her blogs at www.sunshineobx.blogspot.com.)