Ocracoke welcomes back visitors; new trams running

Published 2:04 am Saturday, September 22, 2018

The Hatteras ferry isn’t running again just yet, but Ocracoke Island welcomed back visitors Friday for the first time since the Sept. 10 evacuation for Hurricane Florence.

Vacationers arrived via the Swan Quarter ferry, where trams to be used for the new Ocracoke passenger ferry starting next year, are up and running to take people about.

One section of NC 12, the main road traversing North Carolina’s popular barrier islands, remains closed because of sand from ocean over-wash and resulting pavement damage on the northern parts of Ocracoke Island, from the Pony Pen north to the ferry dock.

The NC Department of Transportation has secured an emergency contract to repair damaged pavement and reconstruct a protective dune next to NC 12, which serves as the main thoroughfare for Ocracoke and the rest of the Outer Banks.

Depending on the weather, NCDOT expects pavement repairs to be completed by Sept. 28 so NC 12 can be reopened to traffic. NCDOT will use temporary traffic control while reconstructing the dune, which is due for completion by Nov. 30.

In the meantime, Ocracoke is doing all it can to make getting there and getting about easier.

Today at 1 p.m., tram service begins Saturday at 1 p.m.

“If you would like to come to Ocracoke but were unable to secure a reservation on the ferries, you can park your vehicle at the ferry terminal and walk on instead,” Hyde County said in a news release.

The trams will operate daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., subject to change based on demand, and will cycle approximately every 30 minutes. In addition to the tram service, there are bikes, golf carts and 4×4 vehicle rentals available from the private sector.

The county has coordinated with the NCDOT Highway Division, NCDOT Ferry Division, and the operator to begin tram service temporarily as a service to island visitors.