Dedication Friday for new ferryboats
Two brand-new, extra-large Port Aransas ferries will be dedicated in a ceremony to begin at 10 a.m. under a tent to be set up at Ramp No. 1 on the Mustang Island side of the landings.
The ferry system is encouraging residents and visitors alike to come on out for the dedication.
“It’s a community event, and (community members) are part of the operation,” said Howard Gillespie, the ferry system manager. “They use it, so they’re part of it.”
Parking for the dedication will be available at the nearby Dennis Dreyer Municipal Marina, on Port Street and at the Civic Center.
A reception will be held at the Community Center at 11:30 a.m.
The vessels, named the Michael W. Behrens and Charles W. Heald, are scheduled to go into operation July 1, according to Tom Tagliabue, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the agency that runs the ferry system.
State officials expected to attend the event include TxDOT Executive Director Amadeo Saenz and Transportation Commissioner William Meadows. Port Aransas city officials including Mayor Keith McMullin also are expected.
Anyone who attends the ceremonies may walk aboard each of the new ferries and take a look around the $6.4 million boats after the ceremonies are over, Tagliabue said. The ferries will remain at dock, he said.
While both of the new ferries have been delivered to Port Aransas, neither has gone into service yet. Crews are undergoing training on how to operate the vessels.
When the new ferries go into service, the Port Aransas fleet will be expanded to eight vessels. The new ferries are bigger than the rest. While the old ferries have capacities of 20 vehicles, the new ones will carry 28.
The Port Aransas ferry system carries an average of 4,000 to 11,000 vehicles daily, according to TxDOT.
Some folks in town have become concerned that the new ferries might block useable ramps while they’re docked, thereby possibly making waits for ferries longer. But that’s not entirely true, said Felix Trevino, the assistant ferry operations manager.
Between now and July 1, one of the new ferries will be kept at a maintenance dock, which isn’t a public landing, Trevino said.
The other new ferry will be kept at a public landing on the Mustang Island side, he said. That will mean vehicles won’t be loaded at that landing. However, he said, stacking lanes in front of that landing will be used, and vehicles in those lanes will be directed to ferries at other landings.
Bottom line: Trevino said having one of the new ferries docked at one public landing won’t cause significant delays.
Questions? Comments? Contact Dan Parker at (361) 749-5131 or firstname.lastname@example.org.