OCRACOKE (AP) - North Carolina will pay about $1 million extra this year to provide ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands since a longer route must be used because continued shoaling makes the traditional route unsafe.
The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Virginia, reported the North Carolina Ferry Division officials said the new route costs $9 million compared to about $8 million for the traditional route.
The alternate trip is more than 3 miles farther and 20 minutes longer than the traditional one. Ferries have used the longer, 7.7-mile route since December.
The ferry division operates six vessels carrying about 9,000 vehicles a week from 5 a.m. to midnight.
Almost 1 million people per year cross the inlet between Hatteras and Ocracoke, the most of any of the state's seven ferries.
Ferries between Ocracoke and Hatteras islands will continue to use a longer route because the traditional channel remains unsafe to use.
Ferries will continue to use a route that takes an hour rather the 40 minutes for the traditional route.
The state Ferry Division is moving a larger boat to the route and will add five departures from each side beginning June 17. That will bring the total number of runs on each side to 37.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began dredging the inlet in December, but the water remains too shallow for ferries because of continued shoaling. The Hatteras Inlet ferries carry about 750,000 passengers a year, making the route the most popular of the state's seven routes.
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