Bill proposes tolls on all coastal ferry routes

Published: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 at 01:58 PM.

Two weeks ago, identical companion bills were introduced in the House and Senate, calling for no tolls on any of the seven routes. The Senate version — S524 — was sponsored by coastal lawmakers Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico, and Bill Cook, R-Beaufort.

An earlier House bill by Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, sought to abolish the proposed new tolls on only the ferries that cross the Neuse and Pamlico rivers.

Rabon, a veterinarian whose district includes Brunswick, Bladen, New Hanover and Pender counties, lives in Southport.

House bill 475 introduced two weeks ago calling for no tolls included Southport area Rep. Frank Iler as one of its sponsors.

Currently, the paid ferry routes include Southport-Fort Fisher; Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island-Ocracoke. Free ferries include Minnesott Beach-Cherry Branch; Bayview-Aurora; Hatteras-Ocracoke; and Currituck-Knotts Island.

Proposed tolls on the Cherry Branch route would go into effect July 1 without legislative action. The cost would be $4 for the typical passenger vehicle, but each passenger in a vehicle would also pay a $1 fee to ride the ferry. An annual commuter pass would be $150.

The idea of tolls on the currently free routes has drawn some heated opposition, including those who call the tolls an extra tax on workers who rely on the ferries to get to jobs at Cherry Point or at the Potash Corp., in Aurora.

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