(MANNS HARBOR) - The NCDOT Ferry Division announced today that it will once again be testing the waters of its original "short route" in Hatteras Inlet this week, after an Army Corps of Engineers dredge departs the area Monday.
The M/V Merritt, an Army Corps of Engineers side caster dredge, has been working on the ferry channel in Hatteras Inlet since May 26, but test runs done on June 12 revealed that the original route was still not deep enough for ferries to navigate safely. The Merritt stayed in the area an extra ten days to continue its work, but will depart the area Monday to address other dredging commitments in the region.
Hatteras Inlet ferry service was forced onto a longer "alternate" route back in December when continued shoaling in the inlet made the traditional route unnavigable. The alternate ferry route is about one hour each way, 20 minutes longer than the traditional route.
"If our test runs show the original channel is once again safe to operate, we will take immediate action to return to that route," said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "But safety is always our top priority, and if the short route is still unsafe, we will continue to serve our passengers as best we can on the alternate route."
[The M/V Merritt Dredging in Hatteras Inlet]