Lynn, Salem could get ferry friendly

April 9, 2012
By Chris Stevens/The Daily Item

City officials are mulling a possible pilot program with the city of Salem that would have the Witch City’s ferry making stops at Lynn’s Economic Development and Industrial Corporation pier on One Marine Boulevard, according to EDIC Executive Director James Cowdell.

He said Salem officials reached out to him and state Sen. Thomas McGee, D-Lynn, to look at the feasibility of doing a pilot program.

“Their numbers are down, but that’s because they’re a tourist ferry,” Cowdell said. “When we’re up and running, we’ll run 52 weeks a year. We won’t have to shut down.”

Work is seen under way Friday to build the pier for a future ferry landing at the end of Blossom Street extension off the Lynnway.
Work is seen under way Friday to build the pier for a future ferry landing at the end of Blossom Street extension off the Lynnway. (Item Photo / Angela Owens)

In September, Salem officials announced plans to trim its ferry schedule from seven days to three due to a decline in ridership and an increase in gas prices.

Lynn is planning to establish a commuter ferry rather than a tourist ferry, but Cowdell said he’s not ruling out giving the Salem proposal a try.

“We’re looking at the cost associated with running a pilot program,” he said.

Cowdell said if they go with the pilot program it would give them two years worth of data that they could then present to the federal government when they seek money for the Lynn-only ferry.

He said he estimates that the Lynn ferry is about two years away from reality, but work is underway on the project.

Cowdell said crews are in the midst of rebuilding the pier at the end of Blossom Street extension, where the future ferry will dock.

“It had completely rotted away,” he said. “People are excited now when they go down there because you can actually see the changes.”

Cowdell said when he first mentioned bringing a ferry to Lynn people would look at him and say, “No way will that ever happen.”

“Now they ask me, ‘When?’ ” he said. “Thinking has shifted, and the answer is it’s probably two years away.”

Cowdell spent Thursday morning in Scituate attending a Seaport Advisory Council meeting.

“They committed to having the next Seaport meeting here in Lynn in June,” he said. “We will be on the agenda, I hope, to receive the final payment for Phase III of the ferry project.”

Phase I came with a $750,000 grant from Seaport that paid for the demolition of a building located at the Blossom Street extension site and construction of a public boat ramp.

In July, the city received a $1.3 million grant to rebuild the seawall. Cowdell said in June he is expecting to receive a check for roughly $2.6 million, which will pay for dredging work and the actual construction of the dock.

“The Seaport Council has only come to Lynn once before and that was in December 2007,” Cowdell said. “They voted and announced the Phase I funding, so I’m confident we’ll get Phase III funding.”

Chris Stevens can be reached at

Back to News