- Published on Tuesday, 12 March 2013 20:42
- Written by Super User
By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
RALEIGH, N.C. - The N.C. Department of Transportation will hold three public meetings about proposed toll changes on its ferry routes.
These changes include rate increases on the Southport/Fort Fisher, Swan Quarter/Ocracoke and Cedar Island/Ocracoke routes and the addition of tolls on the Bayview/Aurora and Cherry Branch/Minnesott Beach routes, by July 1 of this year.
One public hearing has already been held in Raleigh on March 11.
A second hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the Ocracoke School gym, 120 Schoolhouse Road.
The third hearing is set for Monday, March 18, 7 p.m. at the Pamlico Community College, Ned Everett Delamar Center Auditorium, 5049 Highway 306 S., Grantsboro.
At each meeting, a formal presentation will begin the meeting. Following the presentation, the meeting will be open for statements, questions and comments. Anyone wishing to speak should register to do so at the sign-in table prior to the presentation. Please arrive about 30 minutes early to allow time to sign-in. The proposed rates as well as a link to submit a comment are posted to NCDOT’s webpage at www.ncdot.gov
In 2011, the North Carolina General Assembly mandated that NCDOT increase annual ferry revenue to $5 million. To accomplish this, the ferry division was asked to increase toll rates on the three routes that currently have tolls, and begin tolling two additional routes by April 1. 2012. Such changes require amending the N.C. Administrative Code.
In the early months of 2012, five public hearings were held to accept public comment about the request to amend the Administrative Code.
The input received was reviewed and submitted to the Rules Review Commission with the Office of Administrative Hearings.
On Feb. 29, 2012, former Governor Bev Perdue issued an executive order placing a one-year moratorium on the collection of the tolls. Session Law 2012-142 House Bill 950 directed DOT to disregard the executive order and clarified ferry tolling in Section 24.18(a) G.S. 136-82, directing DOT to collect tolls, as established by the Board of Transportation on the ferry routes.
During its January 2013 meeting, the BOT adopted a resolution authorizing the Secretary of Transportation to adopt rules establishing ferry tolls. The upcoming public hearings are the next step in the process to change the administrative code and implement the changes required to ferry tolls.
NCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who want to participate in this hearing. Anyone requiring special services should contact Robbins as soon as possible so that arrangements can be made.
The pedestrian rate will rise from $1 to $2 while "bicycle and rider" will go up from $2 to $3. Motorcycle and rider will increase from $3 to $5.
A single vehicle or combination 20 feet or less in length will increase from $5 to $10 (minimum fare for licensed vehicle).
A vehicle or combination over 20 feet up to and including 40 feet will go from $10 to $20 and a vehicle or combination over 40 feet to 65 feet will increase from $15 to $30.
A new rate of $2 will be charge per each passenger in any size vehicle.
Annual passes for all ferry's will also be increased.
For example, pedestrians and passengers will now be able to buy a $100 system wide annual pass.
Previously, vehicles up to 20 feet could purchase a "site specific" annual pass for $100. That will now increase to $200 for the Fort Fisher Ferry. Other ferry's in the system have varying rates for annual passes.
To view the rake increases in more detail, visit www.ncdot.gov
No public meeting has been scheduled for the area served by the Southport-Fort Fisher Ferry system. That ferry serves as a vital connection between southern New Hanover County and Brunswick County for tourism and daily commuters.
Source: NC Department of Transportation.