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More Shoaling Slows Hatteras-Ocracoke Ferry As Summer Looms

A map of the channel depths shows how sand moved back into the original channel over the course of a month.

The state DOT says Hatteras Inlet remains impassible in some areas as ferries prepare to switch to a busier summer schedule. 

A series of storms clogged the channel between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands this winter, forcing crews to clear a longer detour.  A dredge has been clearing the original route, but officials say a boat bottomed out during a trial run last week.

"It's hard to say what's causing the changes there," says Jed Dixon, deputy director of the NC Ferry Division.

"Hatteras Inlet is very dynamic and it looks very different now than it did two years ago.  Really, after Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, it's a lot wider than it used to be and we're experiencing problems with shoaling in areas we've never experienced problems with shoaling before."

Dixon says the summer schedule will still begin Tuesday with ferries leaving every half hour, starting at 8:30 a.m.

"We are running an alternate route with little issues.  We have a good, sustainable passage there and we fully intend to keep that going," Dixon says.

"We intend to go to this 30-minute schedule, regardless of if we're in the short route or the long route."

The detour takes an hour rather than the usual 35 to 45 minutes.  The Ferry Division hopes to reopen the original channel before the end of the month.

Will Michaels is WUNC's General Assignment Reporter and fill-in host for "Morning Edition"
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