The Hatteras / Ocracoke Island ferry, as well as the northern Ocracoke Island section of N.C. Highway 12, is scheduled to reopen to the public on or before Friday, September 28.
“We are hoping to have it open enough to have traffic through [the area] on Friday,” said NCDOT Public Relations Officer Tim Haas. “The schedule calls for pavement repairs to be completed on or before September 28, and the completion date for all work is November 30.”
The ferry has remained closed since Hurricane Florence brushed the Outer Banks on September 13 and 14, causing ocean overwash that damaged more than a mile of the northern section of Highway 12 on Ocracoke Island. Portions of the pavement were flooded and subsequently damaged, while a large section of the oceanfront dune bordering the highway was wiped out.
Immediately after Florence impacted the area, an emergency contract was initiated with Barnhill Contracting Company of Kitty Hawk, N.C., and crews have been hard at work removing sand and debris, and repairing the road.
Once the road has been repaired and has reopened, the crews will then concentrate on reestablishing the dune line that protects Highway 12 – a process that is scheduled to be completed by the end of November.
“Fixing the road obviously comes first, and then they are going to rebuild that dune to protect [the area] from future storms,” said Haas. “The dune is gone, if you’ve seen the pictures, but we need to get the road [and the ferry] open first.”
There was no definitive word on the condition of the stacking lanes at the Ocracoke Island terminal, which were damaged during the series of March 2018 nor’easters and later repaired, although Haas reports that the sandbags put in place to protect the area held up during the storm, and the condition of the stacking lanes will not affect whether or not the ferry reopens.
Currently, visitors can access Ocracoke Island via the Swan Quarter Ferry and the Cedar Island ferry, which have both reopened to the public. Hyde County has also started running tram service on Ocracoke Island for walk-on ferry passengers, with trams cycling around the village every 30 minutes. The trams are free and available to the public.