(MANNS HARBOR) - After conducting test runs in the traditional Hatteras Inlet ferry channel Monday, NCDOT's Ferry Division announced today that the channel is still unsafe for ferry operations. As a result, Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry service will continue to run the "alternate" route until more dredging can be completed and conditions in the channel improve.
"We have tested that channel with several boats and several captains, and they all came back with the same results", said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "The channel is extremely narrow, and too shallow in several spots. Safety is always our top priority, and the traditional Hatteras Inlet channel simply isn't safe to operate."
The Ferry Division has been operating on the alternate route since December, when continued shoaling in the inlet made the traditional route unnavigable. The alternate route is about 20 minutes longer than the traditional route. Currently, the Hatteras-Ocracoke route is on its summer schedule, with 36 daily departures from each side. During the week of June 17-23, the route carried 8,976 vehicles and 26,703 passengers.
The US Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for the federally-controlled portion of the ferry channel, and recently spent more than three weeks working on the channel with the side caster dredge M/V Merritt. The Ferry Division will continue working with the Corps of Engineers to find solutions to the shoaling issues in Hatteras Inlet.
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