Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Adjusted Schedules for the Swann Quarter Ferry to help Vendors

From our folks at Mann's Harbor:
The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division is temporarily adjusting departure times at its Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route, beginning Thursday, Jan. 24, to assist vendors supplying essential commodities to Ocracoke with adequate turn-around time.

The adjusted departures will be:
·         Changing the 7 a.m. departure to 6:30 a.m. and the 12:30 p.m. departure to 1 p.m. from Ocracoke; and
·         Changing the 10 a.m. departure from Swan Quarter to 9:30 a.m.

The adjusted schedule will be:
·         Departing from Swan Quarter at 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 and 10; and
·         Departing from Ocracoke at 6:30 a.m., 10, 1 p.m. and 7.

Residents of Ocracoke and vendors will be given toll exempt status until the Hatteras ferry channel resumes operations. The division is monitoring traffic and will make additional changes if needed.

Operations at the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route were suspended Jan. 18 until further notice, due to the ferry channel at markers #9 and #10 becoming completely shoaled over and impassable. The channel falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has hired a contractor to dredge the channel. Work is under way, but it could take several weeks of dredging before the channel is safe for ferry operations to resume.

For more information travelers can sign-up to receive messages on Twitter  or visit the N.C. 12 Facebookpage.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Quick Update - Sandbags and Ferries

Sandbag installation is now complete along the part of N.C. 12 just north of Mirlo Beach that was damaged during Hurricane Sandy and a pair of Nor'easters last year. The final 41 sandbags were put into place on Monday, Jan. 21, connecting the section of sandbags from the north end to the section at the south end. The total number of sandbags placed along this section of N.C. 12 is 2,048.

Crews resumed hauling sand in this morning to cover the sandbags and rebuild the dunes. Weather permitting, this should be complete Wednesday afternoon.
While the work is under way, the highway remains open to traffic.
Operations at the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route have been suspended until further notice. The shoaling situation at Hatteras Inlet has made the route impassable.

The Ferry Division added more departures to its Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route, beginning Saturday, Jan. 19, to assist Ocracoke residents and vendors. This schedule, with toll-exempt status for residents and vendors, will continue until the Hatteras ferry channel resumes operations. The schedule is as follows:
  • Departing Swan Quarter at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 and 10; and
  • Departing Ocracoke at 7 a.m., 10, 12:30 p.m. and 7.
The Ferry Division continues to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard to assess the situation daily. The USACE has issued a dredging contract to address the channel shoaling, and work is under way, but several weeks could pass before dredging alleviates the problem.

Well, that was...dumb.

Last week, in our haste to respond to a request regarding our new NCDOT Facebook page, we inadvertantly changed the url for the N.C. 12 Facebook page.  Some of you noticed and let us know that the result included broken links, blown-out bookmarks and empty searches.

We are working to fix what we can - broken links on web pages, but because of Facebook rules - we can't change the url back to what it was.

We know this has caused some confusion, and we are so sorry for the mistake.  We feel pretty stupid about it, actually. Please note the new url and pass it on. N.C. 12 Facebook:

And we promise not to do it again. :)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Drudge of a Dredge

As of right now, no work is going on N.C. 12 at Mirlo Beach because of a mechanical issue with the dredge pump.  The pump is not generating enough pressure to keep its lines from clogging with sand.  A part needed to fix the issue has been ordered and will be shipped overnight.  The repair is expected to be made tomorrow.

The dredge is the large red piece of heavy equipment in background
The gap between the sandbags placed at the north and sound ends of the highway is now approximately 100 feet wide.  Our engineers calculate that it will take 200 sandbags to fill in the gap. However, crews can’t resume the sandbag installation until the malfunctioning dredge is fixed.  The dredge is used to remove water and sand from the work site and sand collected by the dredged is then used to fill the sandbags.

Tomorrow, the plan is to begin hauling sand from Avon to fill in the trench between the sandbags and edge of the road. This will take approximately two days. Once the trench is filled, it will protect the edge of the road any overwash  gets through the sandbags. The trenches need to be filled before crews can begin covering the sandbags with sand to rebuild the dunes.

Weather on Friday will be windy with an “ugly”ocean.   Winds reaching 20-30 miles per hour could batter the Outer Banks starting Thursday night  and continuing into Friday. High surf driving by swells of 8-11 feet could become an issue, depending on winds and high tides.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sandbag Progress

N.C. 12 Sandbag and Dune Rebuilding Update
As of Sunday, Jan. 6, crews had approximately 620 sandbags left to install in the effort to rebuild the dunes near Mirlo Beach in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Weather permitting, this work could be complete as early as Jan. 18.  Once all the sandbags are in place, they will be covered with approximately 6-8 feet of sand. The sand used for filling sandbags and dune reconstruction is trucked in from a sand pit in Avon.

Ferry Adds Night Departures
The NCDOT Ferry Division is adding two night departures at its Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route, beginning Wednesday, Jan. 9, to assist travelers while the Hatteras ferry channel is dredged. These runs are in addition to the current winter schedule of two departures daily from each side. The extra night departures will continue until the Hatteras-Ocracoke schedule returns to normal.

For the past several weeks, ferry operations have been suspended daily during low water at the Hatteras-Ocracoke route. Shoaling in the channel has been an ongoing issue, but Hurricane Sandy, two back-to-back Nor’easters and several winter wind storms have contributed to the problem. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working to resolve the situation, as the channel falls under federal jurisdiction. The USACE has issued a dredging contract to address the channel shoaling, and work is under way, but several weeks could pass before dredging alleviates the problem

Shoaling, Dredging, and Ferries: A Q&A

We’ve gotten several questions and comments about the shoaling situation at the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route.

To help address them in a clear and concise way, we’ve created the Q&A below.

Q: Does the Swan Quarter ferry have the capability of running at night?

A: The Swan Quarter-Ocracoke route can operate at night.

Q: Why hasn't the Ferry Division added additional runs from Swan Quarter to give Ocracoke residents (and tourists) a reliable access route to the northwest?

A: We’re adding night runs, beginning Wednesday, Jan. 9, with a 7 p.m. departure from Ocracoke and a 10 p.m. departure from Swan Quarter.

Q: Why has the ferry division not allowed Ocracoke residents free passage to Cedar Island and Swan Quarter at times when the Hatteras ferry is not operating?

A: The current toll exempt policy allows Ocracoke residents with appropriate supporting documentation to travel toll free to doctors’ visits via both Pamlico Sound routes. This addresses elderly, pregnant and diabetic residents, as well as those with court appointments and Hyde County government workers.

 Q: Is it true that the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry route will be totally shut down for a while due to dredging?

A:  Once the contracted dredge gets to the “hot spots,” especially at channel marker #10, there may not be sufficient room or water depth for the ferries to get around the dredge. If we must suspend operations for a lengthy period of time while dredging is under way, we will notify the public in advance. The Ferry Division will continue to provide service, when the water fluctuation allows. If the channel is completely shut down, we have the ability to add additional departures at Swan Quarter to accommodate the citizens of Ocracoke.

Q: Why did the dredging not begin with the trouble spots in the ferry channel?

A:  The Ferry Division has been working closely with the US Army Corps of Engineers on the dredging issue. However, the Corps has contracted the work to a private company, and we do not have the authority to tell the Corps or the contractor how to perform the work.

Q: Please let us know when suspensions at Hatteras occur, in order to plan travel?

A:  Currently the pattern at Hatteras seems as follows: early runs in the morning are made, then operations suspend from about 7:30-8:00 a.m. until noon-1 p.m.. Then, operations resume again and then suspend around 6 p.m. until the late night departures of 11 p.m. and midnight.

The Ferry Division posts updates on suspensions and resumptions on the NCDOT NC 12 Facebook page and Twitter. The Tweets also go directly to the ferry website, We have positioned a digital sign at Whalebone Junction, alerting drivers to possible suspensions and made 511, NCDOT’s toll-free travel information line, aware of the situation, as well.

If you have further concerns, comments or questions, please send them directly to the Ferry Division via the website Contact Us forum or call the Morehead City office directly at (252) 726-6446.