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Public-public partnership expedites ferry repairs

September 21, 2012

The Jacksonville Port Authority, the Florida Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration have completed an agreement allowing use of federal Ferry Boat Discretionary Grant funds already awarded to the port for the emergency dry docking and repairs of the St. Johns River Ferry vessel.

The agreement, completed in an unprecedented 48 hour period, required the immediate approval of federal and state grant administrators to waive normal bidding procedures. Following the prescribed process would have delayed the return of ferry service by several weeks and added tens of thousands of dollars to the cost.

On Monday, September 17, the U.S. Coast Guard ordered the ferry vessel in to dry dock to address stress fractures discovered in the hull. Thanks to the cooperation between JAXPORT, FDOT and the FHWA, work on the ferry began Thursday, September 20 in Jacksonville ensuring that the operations will be back in service immediately following repairs and Coast Guard reinspection.

"This expedited agreement reflects the effective partnership between our local, state and federal agencies," said JAXPORT CEO Paul Anderson. "We all share the goal of getting the ferry service back online for the citizens who depend on it daily. With that as our mutual motivation and with the incredible responsiveness of the FDOT and FHWA leadership, we will be getting that done."

“I applaud this well-coordinated effort to perform the necessary repairs on the ferry in the fastest way possible and with the shortest possible disruption to the ridership," said Jacksonville City Councilman John Crescimbeni, who also serves as Chairman of the St. Johns River Ferry Commission. "This is the type of intra-governmental cooperation our citizens both expect and deserve."

The Ferry Boat Discretionary Grant funds are awarded by the Federal Highway Administration and administered by the FDOT. The Jacksonville Port Authority has operated the ferry since 2007 and will transfer ownership of the service to the City of Jacksonville's St. Johns River Ferry Commission on Oct. 1, 2012.

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