HRT board buys a new ferry – and options three more

Date: April 23, 2015
Contact: Tom Holden , 757-222-6183 (o) 757 676-2616 (c)

Norfolk VA – The governing board of Hampton Roads Transit  has approved buying a new ferry boat for the Elizabeth River ferry service under a contract that also has options for three additional boats.

The initial ferry will cost $1.9 million while the additional boats could cost about $5.1 million for a total projected cost of the ferry contract at about $7.1 million. The money comes from federal, state and local sources.

HRT is replacing its ferries because, like its bus fleet, they are growing old and in need of replacement. The James C. Echols was built in 1982, the Elizabeth River Ferry II was built in 1986 and the Elizabeth River Ferry III in 1990. HRT spends about $400,000 a year on maintenance for its ferries. That figure is expected to decline significantly when new boats arrive.

“HRT is focusing its limited capital resources on improving our core fleet – bus, paratransit and ferry services,” said William Harrell, president and CEO of Hampton Roads Transit.

Under the terms of the agreement, the contractor is required to secure the services of a lead naval architect/designer of record to develop the ferry boat design, provide project plans and specifications, project scheduling, and all required auxiliary components.

After issuing a request for proposals, HRT received four proposals in January and after review selected Armstrong Marine Inc., of Port Angeles, WA. The work will be performed at the company’s Swansboro, N.C. facility.

The new ferry will include the distinctive paddlewheel on the stern. The paddlewheel does not provide propulsion and only serves as a nostalgic addition to the vessel. It skims the surface of the water allowing it to turn as propellers push the boat forward.

The first boat is expected to be delivered about 18 months after the manufacturer receives a notice to proceed.