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ST. JAMES, NC (AP) — The state Department of Transportation is holding three public meetings this week about what role ports should play in North Carolina’s economy.

The hearings are scheduled for Tuesday in St. James; Wednesday in Wilmington; and Thursday in Morehead City. Each meeting will begin at 4 p.m., with DOT staff and consultants working on the N.C. Maritime Strategy planning study available to answer questions.

A two-hour public comment period will begin at 6 p.m.

North Carolina has ports in Wilmington and Morehead City. A deep water port called the North Carolina International Terminal was proposed in 2006 for Southport, near St. James.

The state Ports Authority canceled the plans in July. But the authority’s jurisdiction has been moved from the Commerce Department to DOT, prompting the maritime study.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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