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Ferry service will not be coming to Southern Maryland

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on April 11, 2003:

Senator Dyson Last year, I was able to stop the Maryland General Assembly from approving a bad bill. House Bill 1376, better known as the fast ferry franchise bill, would have authorized the county commissioners of Somerset and St. Mary’s counties to grant one or more franchises for a ferry company to operate between the two counties.

This would have been a disaster for Southern Maryland which is the reason I killed the bill. The ferry service was being pushed by an Eastern Shore trucking firm. It was packaged as a proposal that would create more jobs, promote tourism and shorten the trip to Ocean City and the outlets on the Shore. But a study commissioned by the Maryland Department of Transportation, estimated the cost of each ferry trip per automobile or truck to be $140.

Additionally, if passed, House Bill 1376 would have brought a slew of the worst kind of traffic -- truck traffic to our already crowded roads.

Opposition to the proposed ferry service in Southern Maryland after all of the facts came out was almost unanimously opposed.

This year, a similar proposal was once again introduced and I kept a watchful eye on Senate Bill 34 and a similar companion bill, House Bill 42, throughout the Session.

This year’s bill guts St. Mary’s County and the rest of Southern Maryland entirely from the bill so we will be free from the onslaught of trucks clogging up our already congested roads. Senate Bill 34 authorizes the County Commissioners of Somerset County to grant a franchise to operate between Somerset County and Reedville, VA, on “an exclusive basis.”

Unlike Southern Marylanders, Somerset County’s residents believe a ferry system is imperative to their struggling economy. I had no reason to deny them their wishes and hope the system works the way they hope it will. Another positive development to come out of this issue was that language was struck from General Assembly budget bill to fund another costly study.

Another study would have not only cost nearly $150,000, it would have been similar to the one we already have. It would have been an extraordinary waste of money.

The amended language that gutted the study from the budget bill states: “Further provided that no special funds shall be expended to support the development of any public or private ferry service on the Chesapeake Bay.”

With Maryland one of 48 states in the country facing a budget deficit, anything we can do to cut unnecessary spending is welcome.

So, we saved the state $150,00 and Southern Maryland won’t have to worry about truck traffic and costly infrastructure improvements for a ferry landing. This is good fiscal policy.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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