Many Amherst Islanders are closely watching a major expansion project to improve their ferry service.
The $51-million project involves major overhauls of the Millhaven and Stella wharfs in preparation for the arrival of a new, larger ferry. The project will include the construction of docks, sidewalks, a bubbling system to prevent ice from forming in the ferry’s path and buildings with waiting areas and washrooms.
Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation estimates that approximately 290,000 people use the crossing each year, and construction crews are currently working to make sure the ferry system won’t be interrupted during the development project.
The construction has been divided into four phases and is currently in the middle of its first phase, in which temporary docks are being constructed. These docks, which are expected to be complete by spring, will allow ferry services to run through the year until the permanent docks are built.
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A new, larger ferry currently under construction in the Netherlands is meant to be ready for service by the end of this year. The vessel will carry up to 300 passengers and 40 vehicles, allowing for a reduction in volume and wait times.
The federal and provincial governments have agreed to help fund the project, but Loyalist Township will be taking charge of the operation of the vessel.
The Amherst Island ferry construction project is expected to be complete by the summer of 2020.
—With files from Alexandra Mazur.