RALEIGH - Shifting sand continues to cause
problems for returning the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferries to their original
route. Tests conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers late last month
showed that in three areas of the Hatteras Inlet, sand had already started to
shift back to areas dredged several weeks earlier. That made
those areas unsafe for travel by ferry vessels, which need at least nine feet
of water depth to operate.
sand in the inlet has been an increasing problem for ferry travel in recent
years, creating issues where they did not previously exist. Part of this is a
result of the number of hurricanes and nor'easters that have hit the area. It
was an overnight storm on Jan. 18 that made the original route too shallow for
ferries to travel safely and forced the N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division
to switch to a longer route.
The Corps of Engineers, which is
responsible for keeping the inlet channel clear, is working to send a dredging
ship to the site to address the problem.
The Ferry Division had already moved
the Hatteras-Ocracoke route to its summer schedule on May 7, increasing the
number of trips to 30 each way. And to accommodate increased demand for service
with the approaching Memorial Day holiday weekend, another six trips in each
direction will start on Tuesday, May 21.
Ferries will leave Hatteras at 5:15
and 6:15 a.m., then every quarter past the hour from 8:15 a.m. to 9:15 p.m.,
and 45 minutes past the hour between 7:45 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. There will also be
trips at 10 a.m., and 12:30, 3, 7:30, 8, 10:45 and 11:45 p.m.
Ocracoke departure times are at 5,
6:30 and 7:30 a.m., at the top of every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., on the
half-hour from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and at 11:15 a.m., 1:45, 4:15, 6:45 and
9:15 p.m., and midnight.
Two other ferry routes serving
Ocracoke, from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter, also switch to their busier summer schedule on the same day.
For more information, 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.