Hundreds Protest Ferry Tolls At DOT Public Hearing In Pamlico County

By: April Davis/ Lindsey Fry
By: April Davis/ Lindsey Fry

Hundreds turned out at a public hearing in Pamlico County Monday night to show their disapproval of a plan to add new tolls or increase others on ferries here in then east.

The hearing started with the Department of Transportation representative giving the state's perspective on the proposed changes. It ended with frustrated residents voicing their concerns with the ferry tolls. With picket signs in hand, hundreds of people filled the auditorium at Pamlico Community College ready to give their 2 cents on the proposed temporary rule changes for ferry tolling.

"I am completely against the ferry tax., " said Larry Summers.

Summers was the first to take the stage at Monday night's public hearing and says he hopes this will make an impression on the state legislature.

"Let them correct their mistake. I don't think they realized what they were doing when they set this up. They made a mistake and the legislature needs to correct it," said Summers.

The department of transportation says it is merely enforcing guidelines that were created by legislation. Last year, the general assembly told the board of transportation to establish tolls for ferry routes in hopes of generating an annual $5 million in revenue.

"We are still in the throws of an economic recession. Therefore, this comes as bad of time as can be expected for the citizens of Beaufort, Hyde and Pamlico County," said Joe McClees.

According to the proposed temporary rules, the ferry toll increase would affect the Bayview-Aurora, Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach, Southport-Fort Fisher, Cedar Island and Swan Quarter ferries.

The rules review commission will evaluate the proposed changes, and if they object the Department of Transportation can either rewrite them or not. Just weeks ago, the governor ordered a temporary one-year halt on toll changes.

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