Ferry tolls removed from budget

Published 9:47 am Friday, July 28, 2023

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A proposed change that would have established tolls on all of the state’s ferry routes has been removed by legislators working to finalize the state budget.

The proposed revision to House Bill 259 would have authorized tolling on mainland routes, including the Aurora-Bayview ferry, previously exempt from the practice. Service for most of the state’s seven ferry routes is free, but fares are charged for service on the Ocracoke Express, a passenger ferry route between Hatteras and Ocracoke, as well as the Cedar Island-Ocracoke, Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Southport-Fort Fisher routes.

“Ferry tolls have been removed from the budget due to the uprising in the east,” said Rep. Keith Kidwell, whose 79th district includes five of the state’s seven ferry routes. “Thanks to all the counties, cities and chamber for resolutions against them.”

Beaufort County’s Board of Commissioners, following a similar action by Pamlico County, adopted a resolution opposing the tolls on Thursday.

“Imposition of tolls would create a significant hardship on residents of Beaufort County who use the ferry for basic transportation needs,” according to the Beaufort County resolution.

“The Bayview-Aurora Ferry that crosses the Pamlico River is extremely important to the local economy, providing transportation to approximately 10% of the employees of the county’s largest private employer, Nutrien,” the resolution reads.