FTA Issues $220M in Grants to Support Ferry Operations

The Federal Transit Administration has issued grants totaling $220.2 million to help modernize ferry transportation systems in the United States and related territories.

[Above photo by the Maine DOT]

In total, FTA noted in a statement that it awarded 13 grants in eight states and the territory of American Samoa, supporting projects such as the replacement of old vessels, expanding fleets, and building new terminals and docks.  

That funding flows through two distinct FTA grant programs that seek to boost ferry service in rural areas, modernize urban ferry systems, and lower emissions by speeding the adoption of low- and zero-emission technology: $170 million to six projects in four states and the territory of American Samoa via the agency’s Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program, along with $50.1 million seven projects in four states from its Passenger Ferry Grant Program.

Both of those new programs are funded via allocations from the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA.

This is the second tranche of ferry-focused funding from the IIJA, noted FTA. The first occurred in February; awarding $384.4 million in funds via 23 grants across 11 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with nearly $100 million of those funds going towards low- and no-emission ferries, helping decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector.

Seven state departments of transportation received grants from that first round of ferry-dedicated funding from FTA. From this funding round, five state DOTs are receiving grants:

  • Alaska will receive $131.3 million to invest in the Alaska Marine Highway network, with nearly $92.8 million going to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to build a new ferry to replace a nearly 60-year-old vessel; a new ferry that will feature a hybrid diesel-electric propulsion system.
  • The Ferries Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation will receive $4.8 million to help refurbish six ferry vessels; extending the useful life of those vessels.
  • The Ferry Division of the North Carolina Department of Transportation will receive $400,000 to conduct a feasibility study regarding the construction of a new depot maintenance facility at its Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal.
  • The Michigan Department of Transportation, on behalf of the Beaver Island Transportation Authority or BITA, will receive $10 million to build a passenger ferry and repair the Beaver Island dock. BITA, which provides ferry service and freight transportation between the town of Charlevoix, MI, and Beaver Island 32 miles away, will examine the potential for “green” propulsion systems to power the new vessel and evaluate the dock infrastructure to accommodate it.
  • The Maine Department of Transportation will receive $7.1 million to modernize two rural ferry terminals originally built in 1959. This project will provide the infrastructure needed to support the safe and efficient operation of a new hybrid electric vessel scheduled for delivery in 2027.
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