- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

MANNS HARBOR, N.C. (AP) - A ferry designed to take school children from Corolla across Currituck Sound is about to become scrap metal without ever carrying anyone to class.

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk reports (http://bit.ly/1Kl4s4c) a number of troubles doomed the ferry early on, and the N.C. Department of Transportation is now trying to figure out what to do with it.

Attempts to sell it on eBay or as government surplus failed. No one would offer anywhere near its original cost of $277,000.

“I did not create this problem, but I have to solve the problem,” said Ed Goodwin, director of the state Ferry Division. “Something is better than nothing.”

Goodwin is considering offers from scrap-metal dealers. He said they’ve ranged in the past from $100 to $4,000, but declined to detail the more recent bids. The boat will need work after sitting so long, he said. Another state agency made use of the ferry’s two large outboard engines worth about $40,000.

The boat was built for the state in 2004. Advocates claimed it would save schoolchildren about an hour of travel by bus down N.C. 12, across the Wright Memorial Bridge, and back up U.S. 158 to mainland schools.

Instead, ferry officials were caught illegally cutting a channel where the boat might launch. A new dock was planned, but never built.

The U.S. Coast Guard later deemed the ferry unsuitable for the sound, and seaworthy enough only for protected waters such as a river of no more than a mile wide. Currituck Sound is 5 to 6 miles wide and open to high winds and waves. The ferry also would need at least 18 inches of water to operate. Parts of the sound can drop to less than a foot when winds blow the tide out.

Further undermining the plan was the number of schoolchildren riding the ferry. There were about 20 at first, but by the fall of 2005, there was one.

Plans for a Currituck Sound bridge put the finishing touches on any argument for the ferry, and it was parked.at a dock near the Ferry Division shipyard in Manns Harbor, where it sits now.

“Before the summer is over, it will be gone,” Goodwin said.

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Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, http://pilotonline.com

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