RALEIGH — With the Memorial Holiday weekend and the busy summer tourism season approaching, traffic volume for the N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division is gearing up.
To accommodate increased ferry traffic for the Hatteras-Ocracoke route, its summer schedule started early this month. And the schedule expands again on Tuesday, May 21, with an additional six more trips in each direction.
The addition means there will be 36 daily trips in each direction on the ferry system’s busiest route. Even with the increase in trips, there may be times during the holiday weekend where demand exceeds available space on the ferries, so customers may encounter some delays.
There will be trips out of Hatteras at 5:15 and 6:15 a.m., then every quarter past the hour from 8:15 a.m. to 9:15 p.m., and 45 minutes past the hour between 7:45 a.m. and 7:45 p.m. There will also be trips at 10 a.m., and 12:30, 3, 7:30, 8, 10:45 and 11:45 p.m.
Ocracoke departure times are at 5, 6:30 and 7:30 a.m., at the top of every hour between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m., on the half-hour from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and at 11:15 a.m., 1:45, 4:15, 6:45 and 9:15 p.m., and midnight.
The Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry run remains on its alternate longer route, pending additional dredging needed to clear a safe path along the original shorter route. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for keeping the inlet channel clear, is planning to send a dredging ship to the site to address the problem.
Once the shorter route is cleared for use, the Ferry Division is expected to boost the number of trips again in anticipation of the heavy summer volume of traffic.
Two other ferry routes serving Ocracoke, from Cedar Island and Swan Quarter, also switch to their busier summer schedule on May 21.
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