In Swansboro, the beginnings of a ferry’s keel are being assembled. In Hatteras and Ocracoke, crews are preparing to break ground on new parking additions and visitor facilities. And in Manteo, Outer Banks businesspeople and NCDOT officials are laying the groundwork for brand new passenger ferry service on the Outer Banks to begin this summer.
At a meeting of the Passenger Ferry Stakeholder’s Committee in Manteo on Jan. 26, NCDOT’s Ferry Division reported several developments on the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry project:
U.S. Workboats is currently assembling the passenger ferry at its shipyard in Swansboro. The company projects a delivery date for the vessel in late June 2018.
Construction crews from A. R. Chesson Construction are preparing to break ground on parking improvements and visitor facilities at the Hatteras and Ocracoke-Silver Lake terminals. Construction is set to begin Feb. 5.
Online reservation and ticketing capabilities are being developed by IT professionals at the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.
“Things are happening quickly now,” said Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas. “I think people are going to see all the moving parts coming together quickly right up until the launch date.”
The Ocracoke Express passenger ferry is a new service from NCDOT designed to alleviate summertime congestion issues on the existing Hatteras-Ocracoke car ferry route. Passengers will be able to make a reservation and walk onto a ferry that will take them into the heart of Ocracoke Village in just over an hour, bypassing the waits that often occur on the vehicle ferries.
The $9 million passenger ferry project is being funded by a grant from the Federal Lands Access Program and an appropriation from the General Assembly. NCDOT is hoping to launch the service in mid-summer.