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ANNAPOLIS — The anticipated notice of request for proposals to study the feasibility, costs and economic benefits of a Chesapeake Bay passenger ferry has been released with responses due by …
ANNAPOLIS — The anticipated notice of request for proposals to study the feasibility, costs and economic benefits of a Chesapeake Bay passenger ferry has been released with responses due by Feb. 15.
Visit Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference & Visitor Bureau Inc. leads a consortium with Somerset, Queen Anne’s, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties as they take the first step to see if it’s feasible to connect bayside port communities with a fast, passenger ferry system.
During the late 19th century and into the early 20th century there were passenger steamships and medium-sized boats carrying mail, freight and passengers to connect waterfront towns and cities. The selected respondent to this RFP is being asked to study the sustainability of a passenger ferry service connecting key destinations including Annapolis, Galesville, Chesapeake Beach, St. Mary’s City, Leonardtown, Crisfield, Matapeake, Kent Narrows, and Baltimore as primary destinations.
Secondary locations include Solomons, Cambridge, St. Michaels, Easton, Rock Hall, Chestertown, Chesapeake City, North East, Havre de Grace.
Currently, “significant travel by water” unless with a personal boat is “missing from the Chesapeake Bay experience,” say consortium members.
“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.” And with emphasis on a tourism component, such a ferry system “would put a greater emphasis on ‘slow’ travel and experiential travel, an approach to travel that 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 study will examine in-water issues and access, routes, and “first and last mile” transit connections. It will also provide an estimate for capital and operating costs for vessels required to run a sustainable schedule based on ridership estimates.
Potential ferry dock sites are to be identified, which for Crisfield the current City Dock would likely be a suitable location.
Funding for the study comes from a federal Economic Development Administration grant of $125,000 with the consortium of participating jurisdictions providing an equivalent match.
Ten business days after proposals are received a contract is expected to be awarded with the final report due 120 days later.
Passenger service between Crisfield and Smith and Tangier islands is one of the last remaining systems of its kind in Maryland especially after the Bay Bridge opened in 1952. In 1990 the Chesapeake Flyer started service between Baltimore and Rock Hall but never generated enough business and closed in 1994.
In 2007 a New Jersey-based company investigated the feasibility of a passenger and freight ferry using hovercraft with Crisfield one of the ports but no service was established.
Since then Annapolis officials discussed starting a service involving battery-powered ferries to connect the capital with regional venues but that too has not been established.
Go here to see the RFP.