Waterways Commission gets tough news about piling installation for dredges

Published 2:09 pm Wednesday, May 18, 2022

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At the May 9 Dare County Waterways Commission meeting, representatives of the North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division said the wait for the agency to install the pilings for dredges at the South Ferry Dock would be one and half years.

The pilings are intended to create safe harbor for the Miss Katie dredge and those dredges of the Army Corps of Engineers working in Hatteras Inlet. Such docking space could save 25% of dredging costs.

The design for the pilings is not completed. However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said if wooden pilings were used, 13-piling clusters are called for. NC Ferry Division said that large of a cluster would impinge on the existing ferry channel.

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The solution is to install three sets of two steel pilings or tubes. Each steel piling now costs $9,000 instead of $4,200.

The ferry division estimates the cost at $215,000 for a private contractor to do the work.

Waterways Commission Chairman Steve Coulter commented that it has been over a year since the project was talked about and NCDOT agreed to get it done as soon as possible.

Commission member K.P. Scott said the information was “a tough pill to swallow.”

Waterways Commission staffer Barton Grover said that with slight modifications, Dare County can assume the permits for the work. NCDOT has agreed to handle the National Park Service and N.C. Division of Coastal Management permit changes.

Grover said the Waterways Commission budget does not have $215,000.

Coulter said in a telephone interview, “before I ask Dare County to pay for it, I want the state ferry division to step up. That’s my opinion.”

Jurisdictional issues were raised. Dare County would be paying for installation on National Park Service land in Hyde County.

Having docking space at the Ocracoke side of the inlet would save an estimated 25% of current dredging costs. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers charges $20,500 per eight-hour day for its dredge. To go back and forth from the Hatteras ferry dock to Ocracoke for dredging takes two hours. By having a dock on Ocracoke, travel time would be saved resulting in two more hours of dredging.