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Dredging begins in Sloop Channel near Ocracoke ferry terminal

dredge Merritt US Army Corps of Engineers
NCDOT
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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' dredge Merritt in 2013

Dredging efforts to clear critical shoaling that is occurring just outside the North Carolina Ferry Division’s Ocracoke-South Dock terminal began on Tuesday. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Dredge Merritt is removing material from Sloop Channel to create a deeper, wider channel. Shoaling issues have limited the size of ferries that can safely operate on the route. Once the dredging is complete, larger, river-class ferries that can hold more passengers will return to the Hatteras-Ocracoke route. NCDOT's Ferry Division said in a news release that the larger ferries will help alleviate the traffic congestion issues the route has faced in the last several weeks. Last week, the Hatteras-Ocracoke route switched to its spring schedule increasing the number of scheduled runs from 18 to 26 daily departures from each side.