If you take the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry to work, you may have to find a new way to commute. The ferry ramp needs a tune-up, which means the run will likely be shut down for two months this winter. Portions of both ramps need to be repaired. Southport Operations Manager Jud Ferguson explains, "It's called the gantry part of the ramp. The slides, the hydraulics, the entire ramp does not need to be closed; it's the working mechanism that makes it go up and down." Last year 189,000 vehicles boarded the ferry, so a lot of people will be impacted by a shutdown. Originally the repairs were scheduled for December of 2009 and January of 2010, but the timeline may be moved ahead. "We're going to try to do it in December of 2008 and January of 2009, but it's not etched in stone," said Ferguson. The estimate for the repairs is somewhere between $1 million and $1.5 million. This will not be the first time the ferry has had to stop. It was shut down 11 years ago for four months to repair both docks.
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