Casco Bay Island Transit District (Casco Bay Lines) welcomed the Acting Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration, K. Jane Williams, to the Casco Bay Lines terminal in Portland on Thursday, August 8th. Acting Administrator Williams was joined by Senator Susan Collins, Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note and representatives from the Casco Bay Island Transit District at a media event where federal support for Casco Bay Lines in the form of a $3.4 million grant was announced.
Earlier this year, Casco Bay Lines applied for the $3.4 million in funding for terminal renovations through the FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant program (49 U.S.C. 5307(h)) which provides competitive funding for projects that support passenger ferry systems in urbanized areas. Casco Bay Lines was one of only nine projects across the nation awarded funds. FTA is awarding a total of $32.8 million dollars.
“America’s waterways are a priceless asset, and the Passenger Ferry Grant Program partners with local communities to leverage those assets to improve mobility for millions of Americans,” FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams shared during her remarks.
“As the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I understand how vital responsible investments in our nation’s transportation infrastructure are to our communities,” said Senator Collins. “Maine’s ferry services are critical components of our state’s transportation system, connecting our beautiful islands to the mainland. I strongly advocated for this funding, and I want to thank Acting Administrator Williams for awarding this $3.4 million grant to Casco Bay Lines so that they can improve their terminal and infrastructure.”
The existing Casco Bay Lines ferry terminal, built in 1988, was designed for an annual capacity of 500,000 passengers. Since then, passenger traffic has experienced growth far greater than was projected at that time. Today, the facility handles over 1.1 million passengers annually and similar growth is forecasted well into the future.
The need for terminal renovations was acknowledged formally by Casco Bay Lines in 2006 and, with federal and state support, Casco Bay Lines celebrated the completion of the first of the three-phase renovation project – the new ticket office and waiting area – in 2014. In 2016, again with support from Senator Collins and Senator King, Casco Bay Lines was awarded $2.5 million in funding through the FTA’s Passenger Ferry Grant program for the second phase of terminal renovations. These are currently underway.
A third phase of terminal renovations is necessary to expand existing marine infrastructure and complete outstanding marine repairs. Both are critical to improving safety and manageability of the increasingly commingled passenger, freight and vehicle traffic.
“The competitive grant funding awarded today will enable us to improve service and safety for the island populations in the coming years at predicted rates of ridership growth.” said Hank Berg, General Manager of Casco Bay Lines. “We’re extremely grateful for the steadfast support of Senator Susan Collins, the Federal Transit Administration, the State of Maine and our partners in the region who enthusiastically supported our application.”
Pictured from L to R – Hank Berg (General Manager of Casco Bay Lines), FTA Acting Administrator K. Jane Williams, Senator Susan Collins, Deputy Maritime Administrator Richard Balzano, Maine Department of Transportation Commissioner Bruce Van Note, Nick Mavodones (Operations Manager of Casco Bay Lines).