Florida DOT won't fund St. Johns River Ferry

Ferry future uncertain, task force looking to raise money

Published On: Jul 31 2012 07:50:34 PM EDT   Updated On: Aug 01 2012 07:10:56 AM EDT
St. Johns River Ferry
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Desperate for funding, the St. Johns River Ferry is in danger of shutting down.

A task force said they are scrambling to find money after the Florida Department of Transportation denied its request to help keep the service running.

Many are wondering what will happen to the ferry now that is is being threatened with closure.

The St. Johns River Ferry will forever be a fond memory for many people, including ferry rider Susan Kramer.

"It was always a novelty to us to ride the ferry back and forth, so I just wanted to come one last time," Kramer said. "I heard that they were going to be closing it and I'm really saddened that they're going to be closing that."

Kramer stopped by to show her two kids the link that connects A1A by waterway. The ferry is a 62-year-old service that the FDOT decided it will not help pay for.

"The DOT has stated that they are not going to partner with us to keep the ferry running for another year, so we're going to have to scramble to see what we can do," St. Johns River Ferry Task Force Chair Elaine Brown said.

As the chair of the task force, Brown said despite the setback, the group will continue it's fundraising efforts to help keep the service alive.

"$200,000 would get us through the legislative session next year and we would work, again with the state, hopefully to get them to help us with some permanent financing of this, because it's a bridge," Brown said.

Brown points out it's not just riders who could be impacted by a complete closure. Area businesses believe it could make a dent in their bottom line.

"It would take away from our dinner business and possibly our lunch business during the summer with all the tourists," said Manager of Singleton's Seafood Shack Tonya Sexton said.

With no major funding source to finance the ferry, it's unclear if it will be able to continue.

But the task force believes they can help cut operating cost and boost ridership to keep the ferry afloat.