Operations at the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route are suspended until further notice.
Extremely high winds last night caused the ferry channel at markers No. 9 and No. 10 to shoal over and become impassable.
The Ferry Division has been in contact with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who will survey the channel as soon as possible.
In the meantime, an extra run is being added to the Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route starting tomorrow and Ocracoke residents and vendors carrying necessary goods and commodities will be toll exempt using either the Swan Quarter or Cedar Island routes.
Beginning Saturday, Jan. 19, there will be a 10 a.m. departure from Ocracoke and a 1 p.m. departure from Swan Quarter, in addition to the three departures from each side currently being offered. The schedule will be as follows:
Departing Swan Quarter at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 and 10 p.m.; and
Departing Ocracoke at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.
The current winter schedule at Cedar Island is:
Departing Cedar Island at 7 a.m., 10 and 4 p.m.; and
Departing Ocracoke at 7:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4.
The extra departures and toll exempt status will continue until the Hatteras ferry channel resumes operations, just like in previous emergency situations. The division will monitor traffic and if additional departures are needed, schedules will be further adjusted.
For the past several weeks, ferry operations have been suspended daily during low water at the Hatteras-Ocracoke route. Shoaling in the channel has been an ongoing issue, but Hurricane Sandy, two back-to-back northeasters and several winter wind storms have contributed to the problem.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to resolve the situation, as the channel falls under federal jurisdiction. The USACE has issued a dredging contract to address the channel shoaling, and work is underway, but several weeks could pass before dredging alleviates the problem.
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