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Dredging begins in Sloop Channel near Ocracoke ferry terminal

dredge Merritt US Army Corps of Engineers
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.