Chesapeake Ferry System Proposal Moves Forward
HAVRE DE GRACE - A study of the feasibility, costs and economic benefits of a Chesapeake Bay passenger ferry has been released, with responses to the plan due by February 15.
Visit Annapolis, a tourism non-profit, has joined forces with Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitor Bureau Inc. to advocate for adding a fast, safe passenger ferry to increase tourism across the region.
According to the study, "A passenger ferry would build a greater connection to the Chesapeake Bay ecologically and to its communities allowing more people to access the waterway by residents and visitors alike."
The ferry would connect "key destinations" such as Annapolis, Havre de Grace, Galesville, Chesapeake Beach, St. Mary's City, Leonardtown, Crisfield, Matapeake, Kent Narrows, and Baltimore.
This study is not Maryland's first foray into ferry transit. Hundreds of ferries crossed the Chesapeake every day before the opening of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in 1952. Today, passenger service between Crisfield and Smith and Tangier islands is the last remaining passenger ferry service in Maryland.
Visit Annapolis hopes the ferry would encourage "experiential travel," where visitors take the time to explore the communities surrounding the Chesapeake. According to the study, experiential travel emphasizes "connection to local people, cultures, food, and music."
"It relies on the concept that a trip is meant to be the experience, and the journey is the time to educate and provide meaning and sense of place."
The first step for the study is to examine in-water issues and access, design routes, and "first and last mile" transit connections. An estimate for vessels' capital and operating costs, along with ridership estimates, will also be provided.
The Federal Economic Development Administration would provide $125,000 in funding for the project, with participating jurisdictions providing an equivalent match.
Ten business days after proposals are received, a contract is expected to be awarded. The final report is due 120 days later.
You can read the complete study here.