Thursday, February 17, 2011

Here comes the Ferry... Again!

From Crain's Cleveland:

Prospects brighten for ferry service between Cleveland and Canada

6:30 am, February 17, 2011

There are signs of a thaw in the stalemate that has frozen plans for a cross-Lake Erie ferry for several years.

Officials of the city of Central Elgin, Ontario, met earlier this month with a consultant for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and on Monday the city's council passed a resolution supporting further discussions.

Port Authority president William Friedman hired the consultant late last year to see if he could get talks moving on a ferry that would haul cargo and passengers across Lake Erie.

“We are delighted the Central Elgin officials want to discuss this potentially exciting opportunity,” Mr. Friedman said in a statement. “We believe there is interest on both sides of the lake for this service now, and we see that interest only growing in the next several years with construction of several major developments in Cleveland, including a casino.”

The Port Authority has discussed the idea of ferry service for more than five years. But there were problems initially with finding a Canadian partner, and then one side or the other would lose enthusiasm for the project as the idea simmered.

Nearly $7 million in federal aid has been made available to build an Ohio terminal for a community that can put together a ferry deal.

Canada is Ohio's top trading partner, and a ferry route could reduce shipping costs between central Ontario to Cleveland.

In his statement, Mr. Friedman said HMS Global Maritime of New Albany, Ind., has expressed interest in exploring the possibility of operating the higher-speed ferry service.