A new, longer ferry route between Hatteras and Ocracoke Island on the Outer Banks is now permanent.
Officials from the U.S. Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and the North Carolina Department of Transportation made the announcement Monday.
Tim Hass of the state Ferry Division says the original shorter route continues to be a problem.
"We did have the Army Corps of Engineers in the inlet doing some dredging right after Memorial Day this year and as soon as they were done, the route shoaled over again," Hass said. "That is the problem we're facing and right now it's not safe to operate on that short route, so short of nature helping us out or a major dredging operation, we'll be using the long route."
Hass says the new route has been in use since late December and takes about 20 minutes longer, making the ride about an hour long.
The announcement means the Coast Guard will put beacon markers along the route making it easier to follow at night and in bad weather. Nearly 750,000 people use the ferry each year.