There’s growing frustration that the Woodland Ferry, which traverses the Nanticoke River, is still out-of-service, months after it was supposed to have been back in-service.
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Service stopped in November so the 65-foot ferry could get its five-year maintenance and Coast Guard inspection in Baltimore.
It was scheduled to get back to work in April, but when the Coast Guard returned it, DelDOT, which operates the ferry, said more maintenance work was needed and it would remain out of service until this summer.
Last week, DelDOT officials explained the hold-up – saying when the ferry returned from Baltimore, its brand new engine was flooded with saltwater. In a statement, DelDOT maintains “the contractor is liable” and it is “working with the insurance adjuster to determine a path forward for repairs.”
But State Representative Tim Dukes (R-Laurel) says his constituents are frustrated, complaining the ferry closure is a hardship. fellow State Rep. Danny Short (R- Seaford) and State Senator Bryant Richardson (R-Laurel) in a call-to-action.
“We are pressing DelDOT to get this resolved immediately so that we can move forward and so our constituents can travel.” said Dukes.
But Dukes notes some are seeking a more radical solution.
“Several people have said, “Why don’t you just build a bridge.” And while that’s a great idea, the problem is on the Seaford side you have a historic building, so the bridge would have to start really at the base of the Nanticoke (River); the bridge would have to go up high and so to get off the bridge you would have to go almost a quarter-of-a-mile, on the Laurel side,” said Dukes.
Dukes says the price-tag to build a bridge would be $80 million and right now the focus is on getting the Ferry back in service.
DelDOT Communications Director C.R. McLeod notes that the ferry runs for about 11 hours a day, servicing about 18 cars per hour, which equates to about 200 trips per day. He says, if the ferry were a road, it would be one of the lowest traveled roads in the state.
McLeod also points out that combining those travel numbets with the $400,000 per year DelDOT spends to operate the ferry, running the Woodland Ferry costs the agency about $5.47 per car.