Alaska wins big in FTA ferry funding awards

Written by Nick Blenkey
TUstumena will get FTA ferry grant

$68 million of the FTA funding going to Alaska will go to the M/V Tustumena replacement vessel project.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday announced the recipients of $384.4 million in federal funding for ferries programs, with the Alaska Marine Highway System accounting for a whopping $285 million of the awards.

How come Alaska did so well? Senator Lisa Murkowski is giving herself a lot of the credit. “This landmark funding was made possible by H.R. 3684, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), in which Senator Murkowski played a lead role writing and negotiating for Alaska,” says a post on her website.

$68 million of the Alaska funding will go to the long-in-the-works project to build a replacement for the M/V Tustumena ferry serving rural southwest Alaska.

In total, FTA is awarding 23 grants across 11 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Grants will fund projects that include the replacement of old vessels, expansion of fleets and building of new terminals and docks.

The funding is being made available through three FTA competitive grant programs.

  • FTA’s Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program provides competitive funding to states for ferry service in rural areas. FTA is awarding $252.4 million to eight projects in four states.
  • FTA’s Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program provides competitive funding for electric or low-emitting ferries and charging equipment that reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using alternative fuels or on-board energy storage systems. FTA is awarding $97.6 million to seven projects in seven states.
  • FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant Program supports capital projects to establish new ferry service, and repair and modernize ferry vessels, terminals, and facilities and equipment in urbanized areas. FTA is awarding $34.4 million to eight projects in six states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In addition to the Alaska projects, others receiving funding include

The Maine Department of Transportation will receive $28 million through the Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program to build a hybrid-electric vessel to replace a 35-year-old vessel that has exceeded its useful life. The new hybrid-electric vessel will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote environmental sustainability for the roughly 600 residents of the island of Islesboro, a rural community in upper Penobscot Bay that relies on passenger ferry service.

New Jersey Transit will receive $7.29 million through the Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program to convert two New York Waterway vessels from diesel power to battery electric propulsion systems and buy charging equipment to support them. The project will improve service reliability, state of good repair and improve air quality in the community.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) will receive $6.6 million through the Passenger Ferry Grant Program to modernize the Hingham Ferry dock to improve safety and accessibility and ensure it stays in a state of good repair. MBTA will stabilize the ferry dock, reconstruct walkways, upgrading lighting, safety and security systems and facilitating back-up power, allowing for an increase in ferry capacity, operational flexibility, and resiliency.

Projects were selected for funding based on criteria described in a Notice of Funding of Opportunity. In response, FTA received 47 eligible applications in 16 states and one territory, totaling nearly $602 million in requests.

Read the complete list of recipients

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