Proposed ferry rate public hearing attracts few comments - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

Proposed ferry rate public hearing attracts few comments

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Three people spoke about NCDOT's plan for increased tolls to ride the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry. Three people spoke about NCDOT's plan for increased tolls to ride the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry.

SOUTHPORT, NC (WECT) - A proposed fee increase for some passengers on the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry attracted three speakers at a public hearing Tuesday night.

The proposed plan would increase the rate for average-sized vehicles from $5 to $7, from $10 to $14 for vehicles in the 20' - 40' range and $15 to $28 for anything over 40'.

Martha Johnson, who says she moved to Southport because of the ferry, said she spoke at the public hearing because she wanted to make sure the rates are fair.

Johnson said she thought back to previous public hearings that called for steeper increases that did not cover all ferries in the state system.

She said she hoped for a larger turnout, but she said $7 seemed more reasonable than $10.

Johnson said she was surprised by the near empty room.

"I feel it's very important to say what we want because maybe it could make a difference. It paused it two years ago, so that's why I think it's good to be here," she said.

Ron Sparks, engineer and former Wilmington city council member, was the other person to speak before a room of mostly DOT staff.

He said it was important for the record to reflect that people on both sides of the ferry, not just Southport, are concerned about the increase.

Sparks said the cost of maintaining the ferry and it's route should not rest solely on the shoulders of people who ride it. He said folks from across the state visit the area, so it should be a shared cost with the rest of the state.

Reps from DOT said it will be up to regional planning organizations to accept the toll plan, which should generate enough revenue that the ferry won't need to rely on money from a pool dedicated to regional projects. 

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