House OKs repeal of ferry tolls

Posted July 2, 2014
Updated July 3, 2014

M/V Cedar Island (Photo courtesy of N.C. Department of Transportation)

— In a late-night 106-2 vote, House lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill to prohibit the state from charging tolls on its ferries.

The measure, House Bill 1234, essentially mirrors a provision that was contained in the House's budget. With the budget now in negotiations, said co-sponsor Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, "we felt it necessary to have a stand-alone bill."

"Ferries to those of us on the coast are moving bridges," said sponsor Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan. "They are needed to get people from one place to another." 

"If there were bridges that had to be built, the cost of those bridges would be enormous and would pale in comparison to the efficiency of transporting people by ferry," Steinburg said.

Asked the cost of repealing the tolls, Torbett said, "You're talking about $2 million on a good year."  

The bill would replace that money with an appropriation from the state Highway Fund instead. 

Three of North Carolina's seven ferries are currently tolled: Swan Quarter to Ocracoke, Cedar Island to Ocracoke, and Southport to Fort Fisher. 

The ban on tolls would take effect as soon as the measure becomes law. 

A 2011 statute imposing tolls on all state ferries was vigorously opposed by then-Gov. Bev Perdue, who refused to enforce it, and it was eventually beaten back by coastal lawmakers and residents, who have fought the tolls ever since.  

The measure now goes to the Senate. 


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  • stymieindurham Jul 4, 2014

    Give the locals PASSES and keep the tolls for non-locals and tourists.
    Put in a card reader that will read the NCDL bar code on their license. Locals go free.

  • Djofraleigh Anderson Jul 3, 2014
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    I've ridden the Minnesott/Cherry ferry on Father's Day and that ferry ride of 20 minutes was already FREE, as are all short river crossings I know of.

  • recontwice Jul 3, 2014

    Robbing the state highway fund to appease a priveledged few!

  • archmaker Jul 3, 2014

    why are some ferries free while others cost - because some are private $ and some are public $.
    why are some roads free while others cost - because some are private $ and some are public $.

    yes, the state operates ferries and it costs money to operate - so do the roads?
    you wanna build a bridge? can't even get the bonner bridge replaced in a timely manner(which in some places the columns below are free floating and not actually touching land underwater anymore!)

    what is wrong with people that no one care about anyone else anymore? everywhere in this state has different conditions and different needs. every county, city, town, and crossroads can have stones (or beach shells) thrown back at them if they want to start casting stones first.

    why is there always some other way to divide people into "them?"

  • miseem Jul 3, 2014

    View quoted thread

    That makes too much sense. Or at least give steeply discounted monthly passes to locals.

  • teleman60 Jul 3, 2014

    Another great republican idea like all their taxcuts. They will get money from the highway fund???!?!??! The highway fund is already not sufficient for our roads.

    The people living there have been paying tolls for decades and most of the tolls are paid by tourists.

    Give the locals PASSES and keep the tolls for non-locals and tourists.

  • Djofraleigh Anderson Jul 3, 2014
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    That's a private (and fast) ferry. Why doesn't bald head island let the state take over the island.

    As for a free 20 mile ride from Cedar Isl. or Swan Quarter to Ocracoke, why shouldn't every vehicle pay at least for the gas saved by riding the ferry, say the price of a gallon of gas? I'd be for that. It won't be just a free ride, but a give away. The Ferry's 2000HP engines burn 140 gallons each trip from Ocracoke/Cedar Isl. Then there's the crew, ship, upkeep so it is a lot on the taxpayer to additionally pay for the gas saved for each car.

  • dennis8 Jul 3, 2014

    These are not free to operate. In a climate where the state cannot fund education we should not be providing free ferry service. Put the tolls back.

  • Larry Lynch Jul 3, 2014
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    hiway 12 is a strip of pavement paved with dollabills that needs rebuilding every year by the tax payers of nc. never have so few [ business owners] been given so much [nc tax payers].

  • Michael Clemmons Jul 3, 2014
    user avatar

    Then why cant we do away with the tolls on 540?