FORT FISHER, NC (WWAY) — The Southport-Fort Fisher ferry is set to open back up this week after closing more than seven months ago.
The ferry service shut down in January so crews could work on a $3 million project to repair an aging ramp system.
Work on the project was halted in March due to the coronavirus. The city of Southport says it takes time to get everything line up properly before allowing public use.
“We’re very excited, but you know it it takes time to get a project like this completed,”says Southport Mayor Dr. Joe Pat Hatem. “It’s not so much when, it’s when it’s completed and safe. That’s what we want, we want a safe environment.”
The long-term closure has slowed down business for some in Southport. Business owners like Kay Jolliff says they are looking forward to the ferry running again as it brings more people into town and helps boost the local economy.
“We do know that the ferry especially in the summer months brings us a lot of commerce to the retail community in Southport and it will make a positive difference,” Southport Trading Company Owner Kay Jolliff said.
The NCDOT says the new ramp should allow things to run smoother and hopefully avoid those accidental failures, which cause the ferry to shut down for nearly a month last August. The city and county can’t wait for the return of the ferry, but they want everyone to know things will be a bit different than ferry rides in the past.
“It really is a festive event, but it’s not going to be as festive this time,”says Hatem. “Because of what’s going on with this pandemic.”
While an exact date wasn’t given to WWAY, NCDOT says the ferry will be back open and running by the end of the week.
WWAY will pass along when the ferry officially reopens.