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MANTEO – As the new passenger ferry’s keel is being assembled in Swansboro, Hatteras and Ocracoke crews are preparing to break ground on new parking additions and visitor facilities on Feb. 5.
This news was reported at an N.C. Ferry Division meeting held Friday in Manteo with local stakeholders—Outer Banks businesspeople and NCDOT officials, who are laying the groundwork for brand new passenger ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke to begin this summer.
At this Passenger Ferry Stakeholder’s Committee, the Ferry Division reported several project developments:
- U.S. Workboats is building the passenger ferry at its shipyard in Swansboro. The company projects a delivery date for the vessel in late June and launch thereafter.
- Construction crews from A.R. Chesson are preparing to break ground Feb. 5 on parking improvements and visitor facilities at the Hatteras and Ocracoke-Silver Lake terminals.
- Online reservation and ticketing capabilities are being developed by IT professionals at the North Carolina Turnpike Authority.
“Things are happening quickly now,” said Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas. “I think people are going to see all the moving parts coming together quickly right up until the launch date.”
Hyde County Manager Bill Rich, who attended the meeting via cell phone, said in an interview that there was a lot of discussion about Hatteras’s role in the project and about how they can benefit.
“The Dare County people don’t just want Hatteras to be a parking lot,” he said.
Concessions on the boat was another topic, he said, such as allowing local food and beverage providers to take turns providing food to passengers.
If alcohol is to be a part of the offering, that would have to be approved by the N.C. General Assembly, he said, and members of the committee will check into it.
He said the NCDOT will create a website page showing photos of the passenger ferry construction in progress.
“Everyone’s very excited about the ferry,” he said about the committee, which is composed of Hyde and Dare county officials and business owners, state officials and others.
The “Ocracoke Express” passenger ferry is a new service from NCDOT designed to alleviate summertime congestion issues on the existing Hatteras-Ocracoke car ferry route.
Passengers will be able to make a reservation and walk onto a ferry that will take them into the heart of Ocracoke Village in just over an hour, bypassing the waits that often occur on the vehicle ferries. Bicycles also will be accommodated.
The $9 million passenger ferry project is being funded by a grant from the Federal Lands Access Program and an appropriation from the N.C. General Assembly.
To read an earlier story, click here.