MAYPORT, Fla. -

The Federal Highway Administration has awarded the St. Johns River Ferry a $900,000 grant from the Federal Lands Access Program.

The grant will be distributed to the ferry in two $450,000 annual payments beginning this fiscal year.

The Federal Lands Access Program provides funding for projects located on federal lands or transportation facilities that are located on or adjacent to, or that provide access to federal lands. The St. Johns River Ferry links State Road A1A, thereby providing convenient access to both the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve and Naval Station Mayport.

"Fortunately, this funding can be used for operational expenses and will provide the ferry budget with a much-needed cushion as the commission continues to explore more long-term funding solutions," said John Crescimbeni, chairman of the St. Johns River Ferry Commission.

Although the ferry was out of service nearly six weeks for a scheduled overhaul through mid-January, both ridership and revenues for fiscal year 2014 are up from last year for each full month the ferry has been operational.

"The grant for the St. Johns River Ferry is a testament to the valuable role of the ferry in Jacksonville," Mayor Alvin Brown said. "For the ferry to be successful, we need our entire community to support it through innovation and partnership."

The FLAP grant will be administered by the Florida Department of Transportation, and legislation currently pending before the City Council approves a Public Transportation Joint Participation Agreement between the city and FDOT.