State wants to expand emergency ferry terminals

By on January 5, 2012

Stumpy Point emergency ferry. (N.C. Ferry Division)

State highway planners are looking for Dare County’s blessing to expand the emergency ferry terminals in Stumpy Point and Rodanthe.

Emergency ferries provided a vital link to Hatteras Island after Hurricane Irene washed out N.C. 12, but the operation exposed shortcomings, County Manager Bobby Outten told the Board of Commissioners Tuesday.

Problems with parking, stacking, loading ramps and room for ferries to turn around surfaced during the six weeks of emergency runs.

“It impacted us significantly in our recovery efforts,” Outten said.

The state Department of Transportation would need to use a small piece of county land on the Stumpy Point side for employee parking to free up space for other uses.

It would also need permission to dredge county land encroaching on the entrance to the terminal on the Rodanthe side as part of a widening and deepening project, Outten said.

Dredging the southwest corner of county land on the north side of the entrance to Rodanthe (blue area, top left) would provide more room for ferries to turn around. (Dare County image)

One concern is that widening the road to the Rodanthe terminal for stacking lanes too far to the south would affect the local community center property.

Outten suggested the possibility of a paved parking lot for the center that could double as stacking lanes in an emergency.

“It may be something that could benefit the community center for the part of the year or years when we don’t have storms,” he said.

Plans might also entail moving the recycling center on the Rodanthe side to make room for stacking lanes and to get it away from the wind field of the helicopter landing pad.

Parking on both sides would allow pedestrians to ride the ferries, Outten said. Additional stacking lanes would keep cars from backing up onto U.S. 264 on the Stumpy Point side.

The state wants to use county land, outlined in blue, for employee parking on the Stumpy Point side. (Dare County image)

Other plans call for using hydraulic instead of electric lifts, adding ramps so that riders could load and unload simultaneously and building piers for docking.

Commissioners said they want to make sure residents are aware of the details well before work starts so they have an opportunity to weigh in.

Outten said the state wants to do as much as state emergency funding will allow.

The board made no decision. The county will ask the state to come back with more detailed plans for the board and the public to see.

Commissioners will have to formally approve use of the Stumpy Point land for parking and dredging county property on the Rodanthe side.

Chairman Warren Judge urged that the state thoroughly explore adding stacking lanes to the north rather than the south in Rodanthe before submitting a plan. He said past experience suggests that once plans are drawn up, the state is less inclined to change them.

“The only good news on this one is they can’t do if we don’t let them,” Outten said. “We do have some control.”


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avon resident

January 17, 2012 3:48 pm

The expansion of “emergency” ferry capabilities is tacit that the future for us island residents is a ferry system.

First, we simply cannot allow our state to build the proposed “short-bridge” solution for NC 12. It is a bridge to nowhere!

Second, our elected officials lack the spine to insist on the permanent long term solution- the long bridge causeway.

So we better get used to ferries. As mentioned before, we need to dredge the basins. That’s a bigger problem than parking or stacking. Perhaps they could also kill a few mosquitoes at Stumpy Point while they are at it.

That would help.

Greg Honeycutt

January 7, 2012 10:59 am

I like the state’s approach. It needs to be done and with the commissioners and public input it can be done right.Alot was learned during Irene and it certainly was a lifeline for Hatteras Island. We know another emergency can happen anytime and the Ferry landings on both sides will once again play a vital role.

OBX Resident

January 6, 2012 12:47 pm

It will be interesting to see if SELC and NCCF get in the way of permitting the excavation of wetlands to create the expanded services, traditionally these groups have fought marina expansions.

Secondly, the article did not mention any planned dredging of the Rodanthe channel. On several occasions the ferries got stuck on the bottom, were unable to pass each other, and were bumping the bottom.

Is there any planned dredging of the channel that was not reported in the article? If not, it seems that they are going to have nice loading areas that will not be able to be fully utilized because of shallow channel depths. Dredging them deeper would also allow the sound class ferries to operate from the terminals, hauling more vehicles, and able to operate in heavier sea conditions that keep the smaller ferries in port.

Thurman Murman

January 6, 2012 9:24 am

More impervious surface and more runoff. Just what we need!

BTW – Is it just me, or is the state and DOT bending over backwards to get public input on every single thing they do out here?

I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else in the state.


January 5, 2012 5:46 pm

Its gota be done..right?

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