About 350 attend meeting in Pamlico

ferry meeting 2

esidents register at a hearing on proposed ferry tolls Monday at Pamlico Community College. About 350 people attended the meeting.

Charlie Hall/Halifax Media
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 12:10 AM.

GRANTSBORO — For the third time in a year, hundreds of coastal residents packed the Delamar Center at Pamlico Community College on Monday night to express opposition and outrage at planned ferry tolls, which includes first-time fees to ride the Minnesott Beach-Cherry Branch ferry.

The new and increased tolls on the state’s seven ferry routes were first ordered by the General Assembly in its budget work in 2011 and would have gone into effect last year except for an executive order by then Gov. Bev Perdue of New Bern.

The General Assembly since then passed session law ordering the overseeing state Department of Transportation to ignore the one-year moratorium and institute the changes, beginning July1.

Monday’s public hearing was the third of a series that included stops in Raleigh and Ocracoke Island. As was the case a year ago, the Pamlico hearing had the largest turnout, about 350 people.

Dozens of speakers again voiced opposition to the tolls, citing a financial hardship on commuters in and out of Pamlico and Beaufort counties to get to work at Cherry Point or Potash Corp. They also lamented the cost to people such as veterans going to medical facilities in Craven and Carteret counties.

Others, such as Oriental town Commissioner Larry Summers, a vocal protest organizer, contend that the ferry is an extension of N.C. 306 and tolls constitute an illegal tax.

When asked about the tone of the public hearings, last year and this year, DOT Public Involvement Officer Jamille Robbins admitted he had not heard anyone at the hearings speak in favor of the tolls.

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