WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Debbie Stabenow (MI) announced that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has been awarded $10,000,000 in federal funding to help construct a new passenger ferry to improve transportation between Charlevoix and Beaver Island. The grant funding is made available through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program, which was established by the bipartisan infrastructure law that the Senators helped enact.
“All year long, residents and tourists rely on ferry service for transportation to and from Beaver Island,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee. “I advocated for this grant funding, which will make transportation of both people and freight to Beaver Island more efficient while supporting the Island’s economy.”
“Beaver Island is one of Michigan’s most unique communities,” said Senator Stabenow. “I advocated strongly for this project and understand what a vital service this is for residents and the local economy.”
“Water transportation is essential for the residents and economy, carrying passengers, vehicles, and freight to and from the Island,” said Mary Cook, Executive Director of the Beaver Island Transportation Authority. “Senator Peters and Senator Stabenow have taken an interest in the unique transportation needs of our community and understand the importance of the ferry system for the Island. We are extremely grateful to them for doing so and thankful for their support of our grant applications for these projects.”
Two ferries currently service Beaver Island, one of which is more than 60-years-old. A replacement vessel was designed in 2012, but did not have the funding to move forward. Using this DOT investment, along with a $6,628,285 grant the Senators helped secure in January, planning can now move forward for construction of an efficient, reliable, and environmentally-friendly ferry. The Beaver Island Transportation Authority is currently conducting a propulsion study to determine the best fuel source for the vessel. Once the study is completed, the 2012 design will be modified and the construction process can begin.
In addition to ferry construction, this grant funding will also support necessary dock renovations in both Beaver Island and Charlevoix to accommodate the new vessel. The Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program provides funding to support and expand essential ferry service in rural communities across the country. More information about the program can be found here.