MANNS HARBOR – The NCDOT Ferry
Division’s Hatteras-Ocracoke route returned to its original route
with the start of service on Sunday morning, June 16. The move was the result of
collaboration between the Ferry Division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and
the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for keeping the Hatteras
Inlet clear, had been dredging out a 10 to 12-foot deep path for ferry travel
since May 31. That work wrapped up earlier on Saturday. The Coast Guard then
marked the navigational aids for the route. The final step in the process saw
the Ferry Division make test runs along the 40-minute path between the Hatteras
and Ocracoke ferry stations to ensure it would be a safe trip for passengers,
the crew and the ferry vessels.
There had not been ferry service on the original route
since Jan. 18, when an overnight storm made it too shallow for ferries to
travel safely. The alternate route between Hatteras and Ocracoke had been in
use since Jan. 22.
With the return of the original route, there are 32 daily trips in
each direction, starting at 5 a.m. from both Hatteras and Ocracoke.
Going out of Hatteras, there is a departure at 6 a.m., and then every
half hour at the top and bottom of the hour from 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. The
evening schedule has trips at 8, 9, 10 and 11 p.m. and midnight.
The Ocracoke schedule also has departures at 6 and 7 a.m., then starting
at 8 a.m. goes to every half hour at the top and bottom of the hour until 8
p.m. The schedule wraps up with departures at 9, 10 and 11 p.m. and
Shifting sand in the Hatteras Inlet has been
an increasing problem for ferry travel in recent years, creating issues where
they did not previously exist. This is partly due to the number of hurricanes
and nor’easters that have hit the area. Once the latest problem developed in
January, the Corps of Engineers conducted considerable
dredging through the spring, but tests in late April showed that in three areas
of the inlet, sand had already started to shift back to the areas dredged several weeks earlier. That led to
the second round of dredging that wrapped up Saturday.
For more information
about the Hatteras ferry route, travelers can sign-up to receive messages on
Twitter by going to www.twitter.com/ncdot_ferry
or visit the N.C. 12 Facebook page.
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