Eric Kalivoda, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, recently joined a collection of state and local officials to celebrate the construction of two new ferry boats for the Cameron crossing in Cameron Parish.
[Above photo by the Louisiana DOTD]
The two ferry boats being built by this $49.7 million project will each measure 190 feet, by 50 feet, by 13 feet. Once completed sometime in 2025, the new boats will replace the Cameron II, which has been in service since it was built in 1964, Louisiana DOTD said.
“The building of these new ferry boats is an important step forward in replacing the nearly 60-year-old ferry in Cameron Parish,” said Kalivoda in a statement. “Projects such as these are a testament to the department’s commitment to improving infrastructure in Southwest Louisiana and statewide.”
[Editor’s note: Many state departments of transportation operate a wide variety of ferry programs across the country, including in what might be considered unlikely places, such as Kentucky.]
Having those new boats in service will allow large commercial vehicles to be loaded and unloaded without any interruptions, the agency said, while also helping residents safely evacuate from hurricanes or other weather-related emergencies.
The new ferries will also reduce greenhouse gases through battery-powered electric thrusters charged by diesel generators on board, as their thrusters have the capability to eventually be upgraded to fully electric.
In February, several state DOTs received grant awards from the Federal Transit Administration as part of $384 million in funds also allocated by the IIJA for expanding and improving the nation’s ferry service nationwide as well as accelerate the transition to zero-emission propulsion systems.
In total, FTA awarded 23 grants across 11 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands to fund a wide variety of projects, including the replacement of old vessels, fleet expansions, and the construction of new terminals and docks.
Nearly $100 million of the national grants will go toward low- and no-emission ferries, helping decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, the agency said. Meanwhile, FTA issued a notice of funding opportunity or NOFO in May that makes another $220 million available to support or modernize passenger ferry service in rural and urban communities nationwide.