Ferry service likely to continue

Published 8:14 am Friday, May 8, 2009

RICHMOND—Gov. Tim Kaine, responding to blistering criticism from Delegate William Barlow (D-Smithfield) over the Virginia Department of Transportation’s plans to scale back the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry, has ordered the department to keep the ferry service as is.

“I have discussed the original (VDOT) proposal with the Secretary of Transportation and the Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner,” Kaine wrote in a letter to Barlow. “In that discussion, I have made clear to them that the Commonwealth will maintain the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry service.”

Kaine said VDOT would continue to provide the ferry service 24 hours a day with no tolls. Additionally, the governor said the department would analyze the ferry service’s current security requirements — which he described as being “of limited merit when actually implemented” — and would aggressively pursue federal funding of new ferry equipment.

VDOT was planning to curtail the ferry service by operating fewer boats, making the trips across the river less frequent, and operating on a schedule of 16 hours per day. The Commonwealth Transportation Board will vote on the ferry service issue at its May 21 meeting in Richmond.

“We’re obviously elated that the governor has intervened and is looking out for the citizens of the area,” Barlow said after Kaine’s announcement. “It sounded like he was ordering them to do it, so I think they will.”

The ferry links Scotland in Surry County with Jamestown in James City County. It is the only James River crossing between the James River Bridge linking Newport News and Isle of Wight County and the Benjamin Harrison Memorial Bridge connecting Prince George and Charles City counties.

Kaine cautioned that by leaving the ferry service intact, additional cuts would need to be made elsewhere.

“We have difficult choices to make and I am confident that by working together we will make them,” Kaine said.