Ocracoke passenger ferry service funding clears General Assembly

By on June 28, 2020

General Assembly approves Ocracoke passenger funding; sent to Gov. Cooper for signature

The passenger ferry docked in 2019 at Silver Lake. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Peter Vankevich | Ocracoke Observer

Perhaps few were surprised on April 28 when the N.C. Department of Transportation announced that it canceled its 2020 contract for the Ocracoke Express passenger ferry. Financial woes and a pandemic were a bad combination for it to resume this year.

Then word got out that the North Carolina General Assembly was working on legislation that would fund the passenger ferry after all. On Wednesday, Senate Bill 750, introduced by First District Sen. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan), passed unanimously and it is on its way for Gov. Cooper’s signature.

The legislation authorizes the Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division to lease, pending completion of a successful route verification, a passenger ferry vessel for operation between Hatteras and Ocracoke, starting July 1 and ending no later than Sept. 10.

It allows the DOT to use up to $1,146,179 of the contingency funds appropriated in the act to be used by the Ferry Division to lease and operate the ferry. The bill also includes $6 million for a new heating and air conditioning system and chiller at Elizabeth City State University.

NCDOT spokesman Tim Hass said that once the bill becomes law, they will be able to move forward as to how it will operate amid the COVID-19 pandemic and if there will be a ticket price.  “Our hope is that we can take all the necessary steps quickly,” he said.

Sixth District Rep. Bobby Hanig (R-Currituck) introduced an amendment in a House subcommittee that added the $1.146 million from a legislative discretionary fund to cover the costs of leasing and operating the Hatteras-Ocracoke passenger ferry. “Reviving the passenger ferry will be a much-needed boost to the Ocracoke and Hatteras economy that was devastated by Hurricane Dorian,” Hanig told the Ocracoke Observer in an email Wednesday night.

In a joint statement to the Observer, Steinburg and Hanig said, “We are pleased by the passage of the $1.2 million for the Hatteras-Ocracoke (passenger) ferry. Under the best of circumstances, we know that the ferry has been successfully operational. We know that the ferry is critical to Ocracoke as the island has taken a multitude of gut punches, starting with Hurricane Dorian last September. We are hopeful that the operation of the ferry will be a good start to making Ocracoke heal.”

The passenger ferry was introduced in 2019 as a transportation alternative for people traveling between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands with ferry going directly into Ocracoke village.

Last year, the Ferry Division leased a 150-passenger ferry, M/V Martha’s Vineyard Express, from Seastreak Marine out of New Jersey from late May to Labor Day.

Its popularity exceeded expectation with more than 28,600 people using it last summer. With passenger-only ferry in service, the waiting times for the vehicle ferry between the islands were significantly decreased according to Ferry Division statistics, especially by visitors traveling to Ocracoke for day trips.


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


See what people are saying:

  • hightider

    But it looks like the economic deficit due to COVID doomed the Mid Currituck bridge, so unless the virus encourages tourists to stay away, everyone will continue to suffer with the summer traffic.

    Monday, Jun 29 @ 9:12 am