Bill directs NCDOT to restart Outer Banks ferry service

A ferry out of Hatteras Village heads into the docks on Ocracoke carrying relief workers and repair crews as the island recovers from Hurricane Dorian flooding on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019.

North Carolina’s General Assembly has passed a bill that would restart an Outer Banks passenger ferry that had been scrapped because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The N.C. Department of Transportation said two months ago that it would not run the ferry between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands this summer, saying that hauling more than 100 people between the islands could spread the virus, The News & Observer reported.

But lawmakers recently passed a 23-page bill on NCDOT spending and policy that contains a provision directing the department to operate the ferry.

The ferry is currently in New Jersey, according to an NCDOT spokesman who said the agency would wait for Gov. Roy Cooper’s action on the bill before bringing the boat down.

It would likely take two weeks to get the boat in North Carolina, inspected and ready to make its first run, spokesman Jamie Kritzer told the newspaper.

The bill provides more than $1.1 million to lease and run the boat. If Cooper signs the measure, the Ocracoke Express would operate through Labor Day.

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