Hearing

Examining the Role of Ferries in Improving Mobility

2167 Rayburn House Office Building and online via videoconferencing

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0 Tuesday, September 28, 2021 @ 10:00 | Contact: Justin Harclerode 202-225-9446

This is a hearing of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Witnesses:
  • Patty Rubstello, Assistant Secretary for Ferries, Washington State Department of Transportation | Written Testimony
  • Seamus Murphy, Executive Director, San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) | Written Testimony
  • The Honorable Frank J. Principi, Chair, M-495 Regional Commuter Ferry Group | Written Testimony
  • Kyle Godar, County Engineer, Calhoun County Highway Department (Illinois) | Written Testimony
  • Opening remarks, as prepared, of Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL):

    Thank you, Chair Norton.  I want to welcome everyone to today’s hearing on the role of ferries in improving mobility.  I especially want to welcome Kyle Godar, the County Engineer from Calhoun County, Illinois.  Mr. Godar is my constituent and has been working with my office to resolve an issue Calhoun County has with utilizing its Ferry Boat Program funding.  My hope at this hearing is to draw attention to this problem, so that we can finally get the Federal Highway Administration and the Army Corps of Engineers to come together and find a solution.  At this time, I’d ask unanimous consent to submit for the record my letter I sent to both agencies in April of this year requesting coordinated technical assistance in resolving this issue.

    Under current law, this subcommittee authorizes two programs that provide Federal funds for ferry transportation.  The Ferry Boat Discretionary Program is administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the Passenger Ferry Grant Program is administered by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).  The Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure bill includes two new ferry boat programs and grows ferry program funding levels from $550 million to $2.3 billion.

    Ferries serve diverse areas of our country, much like our highway and bridge network, from urban and coastal areas to rural America.  

    As I mentioned earlier, I have a ferry in my district that operates across the Mississippi River between Illinois and Missouri that Mr. Godar is going to discuss.  The importance of that ferry to the community it serves cannot be understated, which is why it is so important to resolve Mr. Godar’s issues.

    While ferry service certainly is not a solution for each state, it is important to understand the role ferries play in quickly connecting people and communities through water crossings.  It also is important to understand the needs of ferry boat and facility owners and operators.  Addressing these needs, as those here before us today will testify, is critical to improving our ferry operations. 

    I look forward to hearing about ferry ridership, technological innovations, and challenges and proposed solutions identified in implementing ferry boat programs.  With that, I want to thank our witnesses for joining us this morning, and I look forward to hearing their testimony.

     

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