Lynn officials scout fellow ferry trip

July 2, 2011
By Thor Jourgensen/The Daily Item

The advantages and attractions of launching a Lynn to Boston ferry parallel ones already enjoyed by South Shore residents who take a weekday ferry from Hingham to Boston, said city Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Director James Cowdell.

Cowdell rode the Hingham ferry Thursday with Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy, state Sen. Thomas M. McGee and other Lynn officials and business representatives to get a feel for what a Lynn-Boston ferry would be like.

"The whole point of the trip was to show how many commuters take the ferry and, more importantly, the development aspect of the ferry," Cowdell said.

McGee has pushed to bring the ferry to Lynn and helped secure financing for the project.

An initial $750,000 allocated to the city in 2007 paid for construction in 2009 of a 150-space commuter parking lot at the end of Blossom Street extension near the public boat landing.

Cowdell said the city is two weeks away from receiving $1.3 million in state money to pay for harbor dredging and bulkhead work at the site near the landing where the ferry dock will be built.

McGee said that work can begin this year.

Another $2 million the city is seeking in 2012 will pay for the dock.

"We're well on our way and we hope to have the infrastructure in place by 2013," McGee said on Friday.

Cowdell said the city must obtain additional money to buy or lease a ferry or pay for the boat on its own with the money coming from Economic Development. He estimated a new ferry costs between $2 million and $3 million.

The Hingham ferry is operated by Boston Harbor Cruises under a contract with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, according to T spokesman Joseph Pesaturo.

The ferry runs weekdays 18 times a day from Hingham to Boston. The harbor trip takes 35 minutes and costs commuters $6. The ferry can carry up to 400 people and Cowdell said 200 passengers walked off the ferry at the Boston landing with the Lynn delegation Thursday.

According to the T's ridership and service statistics posted online, Hingham's average weekly ferry ridership in 2000 stood at 3,775 riders. That number dropped to 2,314 average weekly ridership in 2008, but climbed, according to Pesaturo, to 2,534 in May, 2011.

Pesaturo, in an e-mail statement, said expansion of the Greenbush commuter line to the South Shore drew some ferry riders to the train.

He said the Hingham ferry served as a "major building block for development" in the town but Town Administrator Ted Alexiades said the transformation of the blighted former Hingham shipyard into new development around the ferry terminal was the work of a diligent development strategy and rezoning efforts.

He said the ferry site actually provided a challenge to developers who had to fit their projects around the ferry pier and parking lot.

The Lynn City Council approved waterfront zoning changes last September and Cowdell said the ferry plan and power line relocation work done on the south end of the waterfront sets the stage for development.

Alexiades said driving from Hingham to Boston can take 90 minutes through traffic.

"The ferry has always been used as an efficient way to get to Boston," he said.

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