News Releases

5/4/2015: Faced With A Shifting Shoreline, North Carolina's Ferry System Charts A New Course

Faced With A Shifting Shoreline, North Carolina's Ferry System Charts A New Course

Posted 5/4/2015 3:56:08 PM

Hatteras-The people who live on the Outer Banks don't need anyone to tell them Hatteras Inlet's width is growing. Old timers here will tell you the distance between Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands used to be the length of a good tee shot. Now, the inlet separating the two coastal enclaves is nearly two miles wide. Hurricane Isabel seemed to kickstart the process in 2003. Hurricane Irene in 2011 made it worse. For the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry System, the widening inlet created shoaling that clogged the channel its car ferries traditionally used to carry hundreds of thousands people and vehicles between the two islands every year. Despite repeated attempts by the Army Corps of Engineers to keep the channel open, its dredging efforts weren't enough. In December 2013, the Ferry Division determined the route was no longer safe, and switched to a longer, more stable route that extended further into Pamlico Sound. Despite its safety and stability, the new route led to new problems. Significantly higher fuel costs. Fewer scheduled departures in the busy summer season. Longer lines. Frustrated residents and visitors. "Right now, we have a major congestion problem at Hatteras," says North Carolina Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. "Day trippers are turning around rather than waiting for hours to board a ferry. Because of that, fewer people are visiting Ocracoke. We have to do something." That "something" could come in the form of the M/V Provincetown III, which arrived on the Outer Banks May 1 and was opened to the public for tours May 4-5. The ship, a 149-passenger catamaran-type ferry, is making several test runs between the islands, in what could be a prelude to supplementing the current fleet of car ferries with passenger-only ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke's Silver Lake Harbor, right in the heart of Ocracoke Village. "The idea is that passengers would be taken straight into the village, where they wouldn't necessarily need their cars," says Ferry Division Assistant Director Jed Dixon. "If we could bring more people to Ocracoke in fewer vehicles, it would be a win-win for the Ferry System and for the people and businesses of Ocracoke." The visit from the Provincetown III, which is on the way from its winter home in the Caribbean to its summer job ferrying passengers between Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts, is part of a feasibility study on passenger ferry service and other alternatives to alleviate the Hatteras congestion. The North Carolina Department of Transportation contracted with transportation consulting firm Volkert to conduct the study, which is set to be completed by the end of 2015. "We'll be asking all the tough questions," says Will Letchworth, a transportation engineer and Volkert's project manager. "Will day trippers be willing to part with their cars? Where can they park in Hatteras? How many passenger ferries would we need and what size should they be? Would there need to be transit options in Ocracoke? What kind of docks would need to be built? Would continuous dredging in Hatteras Inlet be feasible? There are a lot of differing opinions out there, and we will be listening to all of them." One thing everyone agrees on is that something needs to be done soon. Visitation to Ocracoke, accessible only by boat or private plane, dropped by 20 percent after the ferries started using the longer route. "Ocracoke's economy can't take any more hits," says Hyde County Manager Bill Rich. "Tourists are the lifeblood of this island, and ferries are the only way we have to get them here. One way or another, we need to get our visitors back." For now, the Ferry Division is strongly encouraging this summer's travelers to take their Ocracoke trips in off-peak hours, hoping to move the needle enough to alleviate the longest wait times. But everyone knows it's only a temporary fix. ***NCDOT***
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5/4/2015: NCDOT Celebrates National Bike Month

NCDOT Celebrates National Bike Month

Posted 5/4/2015 9:48:37 AM

RALEIGH-The N.C. Department of Transportation is celebrating National Bike Month this month by encouraging North Carolinians to get outside and enjoying the vast amount of cycling activities that North Carolina has to offer. During the month of May, NCDOT is holding a cycling photo contest where participants can submit their best cycling photos in hopes of winning prizes being offered by the NCDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Division. To learn more about the cycling photo contest please visit the contest webpage.NCDOT is encouraging communities to join Bike to School Day on May 6. Bike to School Day is a national event that gives communities across the country the opportunity to join together in bicycling to school on the same day.NCDOT and NCDHHS have created a new Active Routes to School video. The video describes various local efforts to improve safe access to physical activity to and at schools in the state. “We are excited about the release of this video as it highlights the Active Routes to School project and our collaborative efforts between NCDOT and NCDHHS.  We continue to be so inspired by all of the activities and awareness raising that is occurring throughout the state, especially in preparation for Bike to School Day” said Ed Johnson, Assistant Director of the Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation. NCDOT is encouraging cyclists across the state to send in additional information about cycling events occurring throughout the state during the month of May on the Walk Bike NC website. The Walk Bike NC website will feature a calendar of cycling events occurring across the state but we need your submissions in order to fill in the calendar. Please send in your event submissions here.NCDOT received the National Planning Achievement Award for Transportation Planning from the American Planning Association on April 20. The award is given for Walk Bike NC (the statewide plan for pedestrian and bicycle transportation). The award was accepted on behalf of NCDOT during the national planning conference in Seattle. The award announcement is listed here. 
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5/1/2015: This Week at NCDOT

This Week at NCDOT

Posted 5/1/2015 12:06:01 PM

RALEIGH — The following are highlights from the past week at the N.C. Department of Transportation. Several of the below stories are also featured in our weekly newscast, NCDOT Now, which can be viewed by clicking here. NCDOT Celebrates National Bike Month NCDOT is celebrating National Bike Month in May by encouraging North Carolinians to get outside and enjoying the vast amount of cycling activities that North Carolina has to offer. NCDOT is participating in several events to commemorate the month. Some of these include celebrating the month by holding a cycling photo contest; encouraging communities to join Bike to School Day on May 6; creating a comprehensive calendar of bike month events on Walk Bike NC. For more information on these and other events, visit our Bike Month website. Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month May is also Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. In 2013, more than 29-hundred crashes occurred in North Carolina between the months of April and October. These resulted in 118 fatalities, with the highest number of fatalities occurring in the months of June, August and October. BikeSafe NC offers free classes with skill assessment and advice from motor officers to help make riding in North Carolina safer and more enjoyable. For more information and to find a class near you, visit www.bikesafenc.com. Fortify Update:  Final paving on I-440 West continues and should be complete early this month.  Once that is finished, the final traffic pattern and resurfacing will start on I-440 East.   For more information on NCDOT Now, contact the NCDOT Communications Office at (919) 707-2660. ***NCDOT***
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5/1/2015: Plant takes innovative approach to recycling asphalt for Fortify project

Plant takes innovative approach to recycling asphalt for Fortify project

Posted 5/1/2015 9:37:57 AM

Raleigh – If you’ve driven on Interstate 40 in Raleigh over the past year, you’ve probably noticed the two giant silos that sit along the roadside in the Fortify Rebuild I-40/440 work zone. The structures are part of a modern asphalt plant built by Fortify's contractor – Granite Construction – that allows crews to be more efficient and environmentally friendly when it comes to resurfacing the 11.5-mile stretch of roadway. Manufactured by Chatanooga-based Astec Inc., the makeshift plant – it will come down once Fortify is complete next year – is rated to run 350 tons of asphalt per hour and is equipped with what’s called a “Generation 2 Green System” that’s capable of producing up to 40 percent recycled asphalt. The Green System aids in better coating of the liquid asphalt and helps reduce blue smoke emissions. All of the asphalt on I-40 will be removed from the roadway, processed and then re-used as the new highway is paved. Producing asphalt in this manner allows all existing asphalt to be 100 percent recycled.   “All of our mixes currently use at least 20 percent recycled asphalt, with a majority of them using 30 percent,” Granite asphalt engineer Michael Maclachlan said. The plant is equipped with a burner – used to dry and heat all of the aggregates and asphalt – that is efficient in converting natural gas into heat. Several older asphalt plants run their burners using diesel or used oil. Natural gas is exponentially more efficient, and it burns cleaner than any other option.   In addition to the silos, burner, silos and recycling system, the asphalt plant is equipped with a 74,000 cubic-feet-per-minute baghouse that filters all the exhaust before leaving the plant. There are 1,680 bags – each averaging 12 feet long – that filter and collect dust, allowing cleaner air to exit the exhaust.  All of the dust that is produced by the plant is recycled as well. It is injected back into the mix and used in the production of asphalt instead of wasting it.   With each new asphalt plant being built, there is a series of planning and permitting that takes place. One of the many strict objectives of the permit is to test and certify that the asphalt plant does not introduce harmful particulates to the environment. These standards and permitting requirements are set by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. “According to NCDENR, for a hot mix asphalt plant operating at over 300 tons per hour, the allowable particulate limit is 60 pounds per hour,” Maclachlan said. “Our plant ran at 0.6 pounds per hour.”   All of the other tests are well in compliance of the testing requirements with similar results. The Fortify project is scheduled to require over a million tons of asphalt and the plant safety and environmental processes that Granite Construction has in place will ensure that it leaves as little environmental footprint as possible. Project Update Raleigh – Final paving on I-440 West on the Fortify Rebuild Project  continues and could be complete the end of next week, weather permitting.  Once that is finished, the final traffic pattern and resurfacing can start on I-440 East. Once complete, I-440 in both directions through the Fortify project will be at full capacity. That means phased construction work on the 8.5-mile stretch of I-40 will increase in the coming weeks. As work on I-40 ramps up, so will the delays – drivers can expect an average of 30 minutes extra each trip. If you normally take that route to or from work, it is recommended that you find an alternate route or alternate form of transportation to work, such as carpool, vanpool or taking the bus. For a list of other possible transit options, visit Go Triangle. Work is underway on several parts of the I-40 portion of the project. A new ramp traffic pattern is expected to go into effect for the I-40 East exit at Saunders Street by the end of next week. All drivers will use the first exit ramp, instead of having separate exits for north and southbound traffic on Saunders Street. On I-40 West, traffic will be switched into its new traffic pattern between Lake Wheeler Road and U.S. 1 by late May, weather permitting.   Bridge work on Gorman Street continues for the next six weeks so bridge widening to the median can take place. Paving and grading work on shoulders will take place throughout the project. Permanent signs continue to be installed on I-440. Signs near the I-40/I-440 split will be taken down and ground mounted in the next week. NCDOT reminds drivers to use caution and obey the posted reduced speed limits in the Fortify work zone for their safety, as well as the safety of passengers, other motorists and the crews working along the highway. A ticket for speeding in a work zone could cost you an additional $250 beyond the usual fine. For real-time travel information at any time, call 511, visit the Traveler Services section of the NCDOT website or follow NCDOT on Twitter. You can also access NCDOT Mobile, a version of the NCDOT website especially for mobile devices. Visit m.ncdot.gov from your mobile browser. *** NCDOT ***
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4/29/2015: NC Ferry System To Ramp Up To Summer Schedule Starting May 5

NC Ferry System To Ramp Up To Summer Schedule Starting May 5

Posted 4/29/2015 2:25:01 PM

(MANNS HARBOR) – The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division will be ramping up to the summer season by implementing an interim Spring schedule on its Hatteras-Ocracoke route from May 5-11. Due to unplanned maintenance needs, the full summer schedule will be delayed one week, taking effect on Tuesday, May 12. The interim schedule will increase the number of scheduled round trips between Hatteras and Ocracoke from 18 to 26 per day. When the full summer schedule is implemented, that number will rise to 36. The interim schedule, which runs from May 5-11 will be: Departures from Hatteras: 5:15 a.m., 6:15, 7:35, 8:35, 9, 9:55, 10, 10:55, 11:20, 12:15 p.m., 12:20, 1:15, 1:40, 2:35, 2:40, 3:35, 4, 5, 5:30, 6:20, 6:45, 7:20, 8:15, 9:15, 10:45, midnight. Departures from Ocracoke: 5 a.m., 6:25, 7:25, 8:45, 9:45, 10:10, 11:05, 11:10, 12:05 p.m., 12:30, 1:25, 1:30, 2:25, 2:50, 3:45, 3:50, 4:45, 5:10, 6:10, 6:45, 7:30, 8, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30, midnight. The full summer schedule, which will now take effect May 12, can be found online at http://www.ncdot.gov/download/transit/ferry/ferryschedule.pdf.(NCDOT)
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