Tuesday, January 8, 2013

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, www.ncferry.org. 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.


  1. One has to marvel at a process that does not allow the Ferry Division to specify where dredging is most urgently needed. Just who writes up these contracts?

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