By Kendall McGee | July 21, 2020 at 3:08 PM EDT – Updated July 21 at 9:03 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Ramp repair work on the Southport-Fort Fisher ferry is expected to be completed by the end of July.
It’s been more than six months since the NCDOT closed the route down to add new hydraulic ramps. The upgrade was expected to allow the ferry to run smoother and also prevent failures, like the one last fall that closed the ferry down for five weeks.
When the project initially kicked off, it was expected to wrap up in April; however, when Governor Cooper issued his stay at home order, work halted on the ferry.
Businesses on both sides of the river say they’re seeing the impact of the route closure.
“It’s kinda been the perfect storm,” said Bob Carter, a vendor at the Northrop Antique Mall. “We had the ferry closure and the virus and who knows what else…but it’s affected our business.”
The antique mall is located on Moore Street, a main thoroughfare traveled by everyone who makes the voyage over on the ferry. Carter says he’s seen a noticeable decline in traffic.
“We can tell…especially not seeing that flow of traffic when people get off the ferry and everything,” added Carter.
Across the river, businesses on the Fort Fisher side agree they’ve seen changes since the ferry closed. The manager of Freddie’s Restaurant in Kure Beach says 15 to 20 percent of their business came from across the river before the pandemic.
“We get a lot of reservation requests from people in the Southport, St. James area for an early table time to go ahead and get the return ferry back so we are affected a little bit in the off-season by it not being open,” said manager Rob Gargan.
Despite the sunk costs this spring, both businesses say they’re looking forward to the route reopening at the end of the month and hoping things get back to normal again soon.
“We’re resilient and we will survive and hopefully we don’t get any hurricanes to load on top of that…hopefully we will end up okay,” said Carter.
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