The Great Revitalizer
Photo Credit: Hampton Roads Transit
New ferry projects energize and reinvigorate cities and industry alike By Shirley Del Valle, Managing Editor
erry systems across the U.S. are being revitalized with millions of dollars of capital investment in new ferries and terminals. Two Mid-Atlantic States, North Carolina and Virginia, for example, are typical of the national revitalization. Armstrong Marine’s Hubert, NC, yard is hard at work on two separate ferry programs for Virginia’s Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) and the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The first ferry built for Hampton Roads Transit, the Elizabeth River IV, was christened earlier this summer (pictured above). The 149-passenger ferry, the first in what could be a series of four ferries for HRT, is 78 ft long and powered by two Volvo Penta D13-400 Tier III compliant engines spinning Twin Disc reduction gears. Designed by BMT Designers & Planners, the ferry is a step above the existing three ferries in HRT’s fleet—offering greater fuel efficiency, greater accessibility features, and
a more efficient two-ramp configuration that will allow for quicker passenger loading and unloading. The new series will replace HRT’s outdated ferries which are becoming far too expensive to maintain. The new ferries are also expected to help meet an increase in passenger demand. HRT says,“Ferry service has surged in the last few months with over 67,000 riders in June, approximately 22,000 more riders than June of last year.” Those numbers are expected to further rise given the recent approval by the City of Portsmouth to revitalize Portside, an area near the ferry landing. Construction on the new half-acre site will begin spring 2018. Armstrong Marine has also been awarded a contract to build a 92 ft, 98-passenger ferry designed by Elliott Bay Design Group (EBDG) for the NCDOT. The NCDOT Ferry Division’s Tim Hass explains: “We have a major summertime congestion problem that occurred on our Hatteras-Orcacoke route because inlet shoaling has forced us to take a longer route
with our car ferries—that means we make fewer trips per day than we did in the past. Ferries are the only viable way for the general public to access Ocracoke Island.” Ocracoke Island is located in the popular Outer Banks region of North Carolina. This decrease in service, Hass notes, resulted in a decrease in visitors and loss in the island’s economy. After conducting a study, the NCDOT found that a passenger ferry would be the best option to restore visitor numbers. “Unlike the car ferries that drop motorists off 15 miles north of the village, the passenger ferries will take people into the heart of the village in about 70 minutes,” adds Hass. The ferr y, which will be fitted with Thrustmaster of Texas’ DJ178 waterjets, will be delivered in 2018.
Ferry for Texas DOT Down in Texas, the Texas Department of Transportation has awarded a fiveyear indefinite deliverable contract to October 2017 // Marine Log 17