Thursday, January 12, 2023

Would You Ride a Bay Ferry?

I think it would be kind of fun, especially if it was a car ferry. Balmer Sun, Anne Arundel County, Visit Annapolis seek proposal to bring ferries back to the Chesapeake Bay

The Anne Arundel County and its visitors bureau, along with other waterfront jurisdictions and nonprofits, are exploring the possibility of reestablishing a ferry system across the Chesapeake Bay.

As tourism begins to reemerge following nearly three years of pandemic restrictions, a consortium that , includes Visit Annapolis and Anne Arundel County and governments from Calvert, St. Mary’s, Somerset and Queen Anne’s counties is hoping a network of ferries would boost tourism, support local economies and allow residents and visitors to better familiarize themselves with the state and its history, said Kristen Pironis, executive director of Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County.

In the first step of what could be a yearslong process, the consortium is seeking contractors to submit proposals for feasibility studies by Feb. 15. The studies will examine the potential costs and benefits of a ferry system, possible docking locations, boat sizes and other considerations, according to the request released last week.

“The Bay has served as a transportation and trade highway and byway for as long as the historic and prehistoric record can be documented,” the request for proposals states. “The ferry system connected communities throughout the Chesapeake Bay region through a wide-ranging network of routes. Ferries were the only access to either side of the bay in Maryland until the construction of the [Bay Bridge].”

The potential destinations for a proposed ferry stretch the length of the Chesapeake Bay, from Annapolis and Galesville in Anne Arundel County; Chesapeake Beach in Calvert County; St. Mary’s City and Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County; several Eastern Shore stops, including Crisfield, Chestertown, Easton and Cambridge; and north to Baltimore, Havre de Grace and Chesapeake City.

The request for proposals establishes a six-month timeline for the winning bidder to submit a written report and present its findings.

I think it would be fun to drive to Chesapeake Beach, drive onto a ferry and take the car to Crisfield or Easton. A ferry for foot traffic only would be of less interest to me. The ferry system in Puget Sound seems like a pretty good model.

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