Money approved for expected $800,000 project

The Visitor’s Center building at the Cherry Branch ferry dock is scheduled to be torn down and replaced.

“That’s on point now. That’s on the schedule and will be done,” said Ed Goodwin, director of the N.C. Ferry Division. “The money’s available and has been allocated through a separate budget from the ferry division. We are making plans to accommodate our service staff for that building to be torn down and a new one constructed.”

The exact timing of construction is not certain as contract bids were being assessed but it could be by spring. The N.C. Department of Transportation’s current Transportation Improvement Plan allocates $800,000 for the project.

Goodwin said he visited with ferry personnel on the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach route a couple of weeks ago to discuss how to manage operations during the construction period.

The building to be replaced is at the Cherry Branch ferry dock on N.C. 306 in Craven County and includes areas for crew as well as the public. It had been scheduled to be replaced last year.

“Financial concerns delayed it but now everything is back online,” Goodwin said. “The pre-construction meetings have been held. The pre-bid meetings have been held and we’re moving on from there. We have a transition plan in place that we’ve all come up with on how we are going to handle it.”

Goodwin said he did not expect the construction to impact ferry operations.

“I do not foresee any disruptions in service there,” he said. “The only disruption may be that it might not look as good as everyone would like it to look, but it will be a major construction project at that location.”

The existing masonry for the building was erected when the state established the ferry crossing in 1973.

“The building is not in that good of condition and we have some other issues there as well, sanitation issues and accessibility issues too, so we do need to move into the modern age with a better building, so that’s what it’s come down to,” Goodwin said.