Shoaled-up emergency ferry channel unusable for storm season

By on June 18, 2019

(Don Bowers, Island Free Press)

Sarah Rich
Island Free Press

The Dare County Waterways Commission met on Monday night at the Fessenden Center in Buxton, and with hurricane season more than two weeks underway, the biggest issue raised was the depth of the emergency ferry channel that offers escape if a major storm shuts down N.C. 12.

All five board members in attendance expressed concerns about the emergency ferry route from Rodanthe to Stumpy Point which, according to recent surveys, remains impassable.

An update from Steve Shriver of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed that the route reaches a depth of only 8 feet maximum — not nearly enough for the state’s boats to use.

Shriver also reported that the county-owned spoil site in Rodanthe Harbor most likely cannot hold the amount of sand that needs to be pulled from the channel.

“The absurdity of this situation is significant,” Waterways Commission member Ernie Foster said of the lack of preparation.

Shriver also revealed that the federal government had no money available to deal with the situation before an emergency. If a hurricane were to make N.C. 12 unusable, it would take up to a week to clear the ferry route.

The Waterways Commission agreed to ask that the Dare County Board of Commissioners budget include money for dredging in the future.

“Let’s expedite the process by making sure they know that this is an impending emergency,” Commissioner Fletcher Willey said about talking to the BOC.

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Comments

  • OBX Resident

    This is just ridiculous. As the Dare County Commissioner serving on the Waterway’s Commission, Danny Couch needs get off of the couch and take some responsibility of this matter. Was he at the meeting? The BOC does not even have money budgeted for this work….are you joking? It did not ‘shoal up’ yesterday. There has been no maintenance activity on the channel for many years. The emergency route was used in 2011 after Hurricane Irene, in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy, and in 2013 while emergency repairs were made to the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. One simply needs to only travel to the ‘spoil site’ and observe a compromised dike and outflow pipe to understand how neglected this project is. Unfortunately, aside from a major storm event, one of the barges or cranes dismantling the old bridge could compromise the new bridge and ferries would not be able to transfer anyone to Hatteras Island. Secondly, NCDOT Ferry Division from the general mismanagement of the passenger ferry construction (an update would be nice) to this matter, needs a new captain, compass, or something. Then, what in the hell is the County Manager getting paid so much for. This is a critical matter, that should be a priority. The management of this channel needs the same focus and intensity that Chairman Woodard puts on his wardrobe. The people of Dare County deserve better from their elected leaders, and appointed officials. And, one has to love the way they treat Hatteras Island.

    Tuesday, Jun 18 @ 4:28 pm
  • surf123

    Probably near impossible to do, but it is time for the villages of Hatteras Island to incorporate to be able to choose their own destiny instead of it being directed by Dare County.

    Wednesday, Jun 19 @ 9:00 am
  • Windy Bill

    If the spoil is sand, can’t it be stockpiled on land and sold for lot fill?
    Meantime, looks like everyone on Hatteras should keep a minimum of two weeks food, water, essential first aid and paper products. Those citizens deserve better.

    Tuesday, Jun 18 @ 5:36 pm