- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 24, 2004

CRISFIELD, Md. (AP) — The names of potential terminal sites and operators for a proposed ferry to Reedville, Va., should be announced in the next several weeks, said members of a ferry review committee.

Supporters of the proposal say a ferry service based in Crisfield would bring much-needed tourism and business to Somerset County.

Under a proposal given to Maryland lawmakers during the last General Assembly session, passenger cars would pay about $35 for a one-way trip across the Chesapeake Bay. The ride would last about 65 minutes, and the boat likely would make about three trips a day.

A report by a consulting firm stated the proposed fast ferry should be slowed to 20 knots for safety and cost concerns.

The second phase of the findings are expected to be released in early December and could decide whether the committee moves forward.

PB Consult Inc. of Baltimore is more than halfway through the second step of the $99,000 study that began in September, said Daniel Kuennen, a committee member and director of the Rural Development Center at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Consultants are continuing to interview employers, real estate agents, developers and others who could be affected by a ferry, he said.

Identifying funding sources is a key component of the research process, Mr. Kuennen said.

The new findings are expected to include potential sites for a Reedville terminal and infrastructure concepts on either side of the Chesapeake Bay.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development divisions in Maryland and Virginia have agreed to guarantee up to $25 million on potential loans to a private interest to buy ferry boats, Mr. Kuennen said.

He also said an announcement expected this week regarding a major corporation’s intention to move to Somerset County could erase doubts that the region is unable to sustain a ferry.

The announcement reportedly is that Wal-Mart is opening a distribution center, which likely would generate a need for alternative transportation sources, Mr. Kuennen said.

“Whether it is [Wal-Mart] or another, a trucking maintenance service is good,” he said.

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