The Federal Transit Administration said it is taking applications through Oct. 23 for $30 million in fiscal 2017 competitive grants for passenger ferry projects in urbanized areas.
The grant program, it said, “is authorized by Congress to support ferry service on many of the nation’s waterways, and help to repair and modernize ferry boats, terminals and related facilities that communities depend on.”
The agency will award grants to states and public entities to repair and modernize ferry boats, terminals and related facilities and equipment, in support of existing ferry service and to establish new passenger ferry service.
“Waterways define and shape the economies of many of our communities, and in these places passenger ferry service is essential,” said FTA Executive Director Matthew Welbes. “Ferry services provide a crucial lifeline, and we must ensure that they are safe and dependable for the people who rely on them.”
In a notice of funding opportunity published in the Federal Register, the FTA said that to be eligible the projects “are required to support a passenger ferry service that operates within an urbanized area, as defined under federal transit law, but may include services that operate between an urbanized area and non-urbanized areas.”
It also specified that public car ferries – which serve as waterway links between roads for cars and trucks – are eligible if they accommodate walk-on passengers as well as roadway vehicles.
However, the grant “funds are only available for projects that have not already incurred costs and will be available for obligation until September 30, 2022,” the agency said in the funding opportunity notice.
This ferry grant program is authorized through fiscal 2020 under the five-year Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.
The FTA said it “recognizes that passenger ferries provide critical and cost-effective transportation links in urban areas throughout the United States but face a critical backlog of state of good repair and safety investments.”
It also indicated that demand for grant money outpaces the program funding levels. For instance, in fiscal 2015 and 2016 the program drew 21 project requests from 10 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands seeking $98.1 million in grants, the FTA said. But it awarded $58.9 million to 18 projects.