Shoaling forces designation of new N.C. ferry route

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(PORTSMOUTH, Va.) — Personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are scheduled to announce the establishment of the Barney Slough ferry route Monday between Hatteras Island, N.C., and Ocracoke Island, N.C., at the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum.

Hatteras Inlet Channel has been subject to shifting shoals and sandbars and has been a challenge for mariners.

In February 2013, the shoaling of Hatteras Inlet Channel became so severe the Coast Guard, in consultation with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, temporarily established an alternate channel known locally as Barney Slough.

This summer, Coast Guard headquarters approved the permanent establishment of this waterway. The NCDOT Ferry System has not used the Hatteras Ferry Channel since December 2013 and now considers Barney Slough as the primary route.

This endeavor has been the result of a partnership between the NCDOT Ferry Division, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard to determine the best way to keep the waterways open for commerce.

The Hatteras ferry route connects Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island, carrying 750,000 passengers a year, making the route the busiest in North Carolina. Approximately 85 percent of the passengers are tourists who contribute more than $168 million annually to the local economy.

By Professional Mariner Staff