New cable ferries for West Kootenay will be built in Nakusp, the BC government has announced.
Waterbridge Steel has been awarded a $27.9-million contract to design and build four new cable ferries for Harrop, Glade, Arrow Park, as well as Adams Lake.
The existing vessels have reached the end of their working life, the Ministry of Transportation said.
Waterbridge also built the new MV Columbia in Nakusp, which now plies between Galena Bay and Shelter Bay on Upper Arrow Lake. Harbour Cruises Ltd. of Vancouver was the other company shortlisted to bid on the project.
“Everyone at Waterbridge Steel and its sister companies are very excited by this new project,” said Waterbridge Group president and CEO John Harding. “These new cable ferries are important for everyone who relies on our inland ferry service. It’s also particularly good news for employees in our operations division, who will soon have new ferries to operate.”
The new ferries that will serve Glade, Harrop and Arrow Park, will be larger and able to carry more vehicles than the existing ferries, with capacity increased to handle commercial vehicles at full highway loads.
The new Glade ferry will be able to hold nine vehicles, compared to the present eight, while the new Harrop ferry will be able to hold 24, compared to the present 18.
The current Harrop ferry, built in 1949, operates on demand 24 hours a day while the Glade ferry, built in 1948, takes a break between 2:20 and 5 a.m.
The Arrow Park ferry, 22 km south of Nakusp, can carry 24 vehicles. It operates on demand from 5 a.m. to 9:20 p.m. with a break between 12:15 and 2:15 p.m.
Each of the three ferry crossings takes about five minutes.
In addition, while the ferries are docked during off-peak hours, power will be supplied by on-board batteries. This will reduce noise at the terminal, and lower the vessels’ greenhouse gas emissions. It’s expected the first of the new vessels will be delivered in early 2017, with all new vessels scheduled to be in service by the end of 2019.
The project will generate employment for approximately 30 people over four years, with the majority of work taking place in Nakusp.
“The contract is exciting news for our community,” Nakusp mayor Karen Hamling said in a news release. “Four new cable ferries will be built right here in Nakusp, and our local shops and services will benefit from the good-paying jobs created by this project.”
The four cable ferries to be replaced carried approximately 482,000 vehicles and 685,000 passengers last year.