- The North Carolina Department of Transportation
today announced Harold B. Thomas, currently acting as assistant director of operations, as the new director for the Ferry Division. He begins his new duties immediately."Harold brings more than 17 years of leadership, management and maritime experience to this position," said NCDOT Deputy Secretary for Transit Paul Morris. "He worked his way up through the ranks, and I am sure he will serve the state's coastal residents and our visitors with integrity and determination."Thomas has been assistant director of operations since March 20, 2010. He first started working with the Ferry Division as a ferry crew member I in 1994 at the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach route and worked his way up to oiler and then to chief engineer."Thomas demonstrated exceptional leadership during the recovery efforts following Hurricane Irene," said Morris. "Leading during an emergency, ensuring that the people are served, these are the traits we need in a new ferry director."In 2001, Thomas received a letter of accommodation from the Texas Department of Transportation for helping ferry citizens between South Padre Island to Port Isabel following a bridge collapse. Thomas was one of the crew members NCDOT sent to help, and he remained in Texas for more than a month. Thomas lives in Newport with his wife Karen and the couple has a daughter, Amanda and a son, Joshua.A nationwide search to fill Thomas's vacated position will begin. The NCDOT Ferry Division, the second largest ferry system in the nation, employs nearly 500 people. It serves seven routes along the coast and operates 21 vessels in its fleet, along with support vessels such as tugs, dredges and barges.Each year, the ferries transport approximately one million vehicles and more than 2.1 million passengers. Ferries, a vital part of Eastern North Carolina's economy, operate 365 days a year, weather permitting. They are the only mode of transportation to Ocracoke Island and served a vital role in the recent aftermath of Hurricane Irene by providing an emergency lifeline to Hatteras Island when NC 12 was breached.Editors Note: Photo of new NCDOT Ferry Director Harold Thomas attached.