Carper, Blunt Rochester Announce $600k to Modernize Ferry System

LEWES, Del. — U.S. Senator Tom Carper and U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester (both D-Del.), today welcomed a $600,000 grant award from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration’s America’s Marine Highway Program to the Delaware River and Bay Authority in support of a new master plan?for?deploying modern,?efficient, and cleaner?ferryboats in the First State.

The master plan will include a comprehensive analysis of operations?and?service needs to help?determine the types, sizes, and the number of ferries needed in the future. To support the nationwide?push towards a low-carbon future, the ferry system?will also be capable of incorporating technologies within the vessels — such as electric vehicle charging stations — that benefit consumers and the environment.

The recently enacted Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act will enable ferry systems like the Delaware River and Bay Authority to accelerate their work to enhance service and improve sustainability. Senators Carper, Chris Coons, and Congresswoman Blunt Rochester shepherded the legislation through Congress and President Biden signed it into law last fall. This Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure that includes historic funding for highways, transit, ferries, and waterways.

“Ferries take cars off the road, provide a quick, scenic way to travel, and support local tourism industries,” said Senator Carper. “Last fall, we recognized the important role that ferries have in our nation through the historic investments we included in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. By making ferries an even cleaner and more energy-efficient mode of transportation, we can reduce emissions and support good-paying jobs. I’m pleased to see these investments directly benefit the Delaware River and Bay Authority’s ferry system, which has a major impact on the economy here in Sussex County.”

“The Cape-May Lewes Ferry has been a key part of Delaware’s identity and tourism engine for decades. Today’s investment in the Delaware River and Bay Authority will take our ferry system to the next level, developing a modern, clean, and efficient fleet,” said Rep. Blunt Rochester. “These are exactly the kinds of investments that we envisioned when voting to pass the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law last year – allowing DRBA and the Delaware ferry system to flourish and thrive for decades to come.”

The master plan will contain an analysis of various vessel characteristics, including smaller sizes, faster vessels, alternate propulsion systems and environmentally friendly considerations (alternative fuels, hybrids, electric, etc.); as well as how proposed designs interface with existing shore side infrastructure. The review will also provide associated costs as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the options.

“On behalf of the DRBA, I want to thank our congressional delegation for their work to secure this vital federal funding to support the Cape May – Lewes Ferry Master Plan,” said Thomas J. Cook, Executive Director of the bi-state agency.  “This new planning document – including the conceptual design of new ferry vessels – will guide our future decision making process. Our goal is to improve service and reduce operating costs while laying the foundation for sustainable ferry operations for the next generation of our customers.”

“The Cape May – Lewes Ferry has a substantial positive impact on our local economy,”  said Lewes Mayor Ted Becker.  “In fact, a recent study indicated that ferry passengers spend a minimum of $125 million annually at Delaware Beaches and less than 5% of all ferry passengers report driving through the area without stopping for something even if it’s just for gas or take-out.  It’s important that the Cape May – Lewes Ferry continue to serve the twin capes region for years to come!”