Fayette County commissioners will vote later this month whether or not to dry dock the Fredericktown Ferry.
Fayette County clerk Amy Revak confirmed commissioners added two items concerning the ferry to the agenda of the next general meeting at 10 a.m. May 23 at the Fayette County Courthouse. The items were added during the monthly agenda meeting Tuesday morning.
At the public meeting next week, commissioners will decide whether Fayette County will halt operation of the Fredericktown Ferry as of September 3, 2013. A second agenda item will rescind a resolution passed in November 2012 that authorized advertising for the solicitation of bids for work to rehabilitate the ferryboat.
Revak said commissioners were discussing a roughly $970 million Federal Transit Administration grant issued for that rehabilitation effort that must be used by the end of September. Washington and Fayette counties both earmarked $100,000 to put toward the rehabilitation effort.
Fayette and Washington counties share operation of the boat, which transports passengers and vehicles across the Monongahela River. Ridership on the ferry has been down since the opening of the Bakewell Bridge in July, which allows motorists to cross the river on the Mon-Valley Expressway. County records show that the yearly income generated from the $2 roundway toll dropped from $7,588 in 2009 to $3,555 last year. The ferryboat cost $124,831 to operate last year.
Commissioners from both counties have been considering permanently dry-docking the vessel as its deficit continues to rise. Last year, the boat operated with a budget $28,000 in the red, according to Fayette County records. Recently, a group unveiled a plan to turn the ferry into a permanent museum on proposed park grounds on the Fredericktown side of the Monongahela.
A ferryboat has operated on the stretch of river since the late 18th century. The current steel vessel crawls along a length of submerged cable and has been in operation since 1977.
Revak was unsure what it would mean for Washington County commissioners if they chose to keep the ferry open without the cooperation of Fayette County.