KELLY – The Elwell Ferry, which shuttles vehicles over the Cape Fear River for free, has resumed service after a hiatus of more than two years.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has executed a contract for ICRO Enterprises Inc. of Greenville to operate the cable ferry at a cost of $86,200 for one year; the contract can be mutually extended.
The contractor has spent the past several days reviewing operations; high river levels last week kept the vessel at dock. Today, the ferry resumed public operation for the first time since early 2020.
The ferry operates seven days a week during daylight hours. People simply may show up to use it without the need for making an appointment. Demand for it is heavier in the summertime.
Service unexpectedly ceased
After the previous contract ended in 2020, the department did not immediately replace it due to budget constraints brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. In anticipation of resuming service, the department strung a new cable over the river and did maintenance to the launch site.
This year, the department had the vessel drydocked at Wilmington marina , so that it could be fully inspected and overhauled with new components, sandblasting and repainting at a cost of $25,000.
Elwell Ferry carries about 75 vehicles a day, usually one crossing at a time. It's one of three remaining inland cable ferries operated by the NCDOT. The other two are the San Souci Ferry in Bertie County and the Parker's Ferry in Hertford County.