Ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands could resume as early as this week with an alternate route. The state Department of Transportation says surveyors have identified a longer channel that could allow ferries to pass. Service has been spotty or suspended since Hurricane Sandy and two nor'easters made the normal route impassible during low tides. DOT spokesman Steve Abbott says the agency hopes to reopen the route quickly to let traffic flow to an area that relies heavily on tourism from Spring to Fall.
"We're hoping the Coast Guard, weather permitting, can go out and mark the channel with navigational aids this week, and then we'll go out and do a trial run," Abbott says.
"That should be able to allow us to resume service. It won't be quite the same, but it will at least get service temporarily going before the shorter route is ready."
Abbott says it will take nearly an hour and a half to travel the alternate channel. That's twice as long as the normal route, but shorter than using a temporary ferry from the mainland. Abbott says crews hope to finish dredging the main channel by late next month.