Fort Fisher Ferry Still Closed For Repairs; Work Delayed

Fort Fisher Ferry Still Closed For Repairs; Work Delayed

Fort Fisher Ferry Still Closed For Repairs; Work Delayed Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 07 April 2020 17:19

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

FORT FISHER - The Southport - Fort Fisher ferry route shut down on January 6th, 2020 and was scheduled to reopen April 6th, 2020 in order to conduct a project to replace aging equipment that controls the ramps used to load and unload vehicles.

That project has been delayed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The contractor has removed crews from the project temporarily. An employee of the Ferry System explained Tuesday April 7th, that no completion date has been set at this time but the project might be completed by the end of April. However, that date is extremely open-ended due to obvious circumstances regarding COVID-19 and the economy.

The NC Ferry System has reduced operating hours at routes along the coast in response to the virus. The cable-counterweight ramp system at Fort Fisher will be replaced with a modern hydraulic ramp system.

In August 2019, operations at the Fort Fisher terminal were suspended due to a broken cable on one of the ramps at the dock. Service resumed Tuesday morning October 1st.

According to NCDOT, the ramp system, which includes several cables, counterweights and the ramp itself, failed Aug. 27. Without the system in place, it was impossible to load and off load vehicles to and from the ferries. Before resuming ferry service, workers had to replace cables and repair the damaged portion of the ramp.

While repairs were underway, over the Labor Day weekend, locals and tourists had to use an alternate route to Southport and Oak Island.

That route required traveling north to Wilmington, crossing the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and using US-17 S/US-76 West and NC-87 South to NC-211 S/N Howe St. in Smithville. The total time is just under an hour, or more depending on traffic.

According to NCDOT, "The $3 million project will replace the old system with an updated hydraulic ramp system, which runs smoother and is less prone to accidental failures such as the one that shut down the route for five weeks in August." "This is a critically needed upgrade that will bring the Southport and Fort Fisher terminals up to date technologically," said NCDOT Ferry Division Director Harold Thomas. "We know the shutdown will be an inconvenience for commuters on that route, but it will result in more reliable ferry service in the long run." NCDOT says contractors are hoping to complete the project and have the route reopened by April 6th and commuter pass holders will automatically be credited with an extension to their passes after the route reopens.

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