CURRITUCK — State Rep. Bobby Hanig almost didn’t get his SUV on an almost full Currituck-Knotts Island ferry for the 6:50 a.m. departure from the island Wednesday morning.
But that would have been OK with Hanig, R-Currituck, as the first-term state representative wanted to be the one first in line when the ferry left Currituck about an hour earlier.
When the Gov. James B. Hunt pulled away from Currituck at 6 a.m. Wednesday it was the first time the ferry carried passengers since April 1. Hanig and four other vehicles were on the trip.
The five roundtrip-a-day service was shut down in April because of the COVID-19 pandemic. An N.C. Department of Transportation spokesperson said last week the ferry might not resume service this fiscal year, which ends next June, because of massive NCDOT budget shortfalls.
That didn’t sit well with Hanig and fellow lawmakers state Sen. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan, and state Rep. Ed Goodwin, R-Chowan, who lobbied NCDOT officials to resume the ferry service.
That effort worked as NCDOT announced last week that the ferry would resume normal operations this week.
“We are glad this is open, it’s a big deal,” Hanig said.
One Knotts Island resident echoed Hanig’s sentiment.
“Thank God this is running again,” a man in a pickup truck pulling a front-end loader said as he departed the ferry in Currituck Wednesday morning.
Almost a dozen other vehicles also departed the ferry when it arrived in Currituck at 7:30 a.m. Hanig’s SUV was the last one off as he had to go to the back of the line of vehicles waiting on Knotts Island, making the return trip with little room to spare.
As those vehicles drove off the ferry in Currituck they passed a roofing company truck pulling a long trailer of roofing supplies and another pickup waiting in line for the return trip to Knotts Island, which wasn’t scheduled for another 90 minutes.
That, Hanig said, proves the importance of the ferry service.
“This is crucial, this is their highway,” Hanig said. “This is a classic example of what government is supposed to do. The reasons they were giving us why it was shut down were just not holding any water. For it to be shut down was a real burden on folks. But everyone came together and did the right thing.”