St. Johns ferry out of service until further notice

Jaxport: Out of operation due to mechanical problems

Published On: Sep 17 2012 05:42:49 PM EDT   Updated On: Sep 17 2012 11:44:26 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The St. Johns River Ferry was out of service all day Monday and Jaxport officials say it will stay parked until extensive repairs can be made.

The St. Johns River Ferry Commission met Monday night to try to find a way to get the ferry operational as soon as possible.

Officials said stress fractures have been discovered in the hull plate of the ferry, and a small amount of water is seeping into the vessel.  The water is being pumped out, officials said.

"We were pretty shocked to find out about the cracks that were discovered today. But the public was never in any danger, and we are getting it fixed right away. It shouldn't be more than a few days," said Elaine Brown, St. Johns River Ferry Commission.

Riders should expect the ferry -- which connect State Road A1A between Mayport and Fort George Island -- to be out of service for at least the next several days since the ferry will have to be taken out of the water for repairs, according Jaxport spokeswoman Nancy Rubin

The U.S. Coast Guard has instructed that the ferry be removed from service until repairs are completed.  Given that the ferry has no dedicated source of funding, where the money to pay to fix the ferry is unclear.

Jaxport decided earlier in the year it can no longer afford to operate the ferry and is turning over its operation to a non-profit St. Johns River Ferry Commission on Oct. 1.  Jaxport the city of Jacksonville have each pledged $200,000 to the commission, but that is not enough money to run the ferry for the year.

A FDOT survey done of 3,000 ferry riders completed in March and April showed 46 percent were locals using the ferry for fun, sun and food.

"This is the people of Jacksonville, Nassau County's ferry, we love it. We want to keep it going, we need to ride it and support it, and hopefully next year we can put together some fun things that could happen. People could get married on it. We could have, if it's your birthday, ride free. A lot of things that make it a little bit more exciting," Brown said.