It’s an idea that could ease traffic and boost tourism at the same time: a network of 40-50-passenger ferries making stops at different Bay ports. Right now it’s just a concept, but it’s gaining traction with grant money for a study and support from several waterfront towns.
Chesapeake Beach, Md. is seeking public comment on the idea, and leaders support it unanimously.
Every Chesapeake Beach Town Council member is sending Mayor Pat Mahoney a big “yes” for the town to participate in the Bayways Crossing Ferry project, as it’s being called. Hilary Dailey, Tourism Program Specialist for Calvert County’s Department of Economic Development took questions from the council about including Chesapeake Beach in the proposed plan.
Their response was universal. “I love this idea,” said council member Greg Morris. Very exciting,” said member Margaret Peggy Hartman. Public comment also showed enthusiasm for the idea.
Once completed, a ferry carrying 40-50 passengers would stop at Chesapeake Beach after crossing the bay from Somerset County, from Annapolis or other waterfront towns. There’s discussion underway to include Smith and Tangier Island as well.
Upon arrival, passengers could visit restaurants, stay overnight in hotels, and visit local shops. Council members expressed interest to include North Beach in the proposal in the Chesapeake Beach stop. There was agreement, too, for multiple arrival and departure times instead of just once a day. Maintaining the required 6-foot channel depth for this type of boat is also a concern.
Dailey says 16 Maryland counties have expressed interest in the plan. Besides Chesapeake Beach and North Beach, the state is also considering Solomons Island as a potential Calvert County location. As of now, a grant has been submitted to study the feasibility of the idea. A second grant, which is due August 20, focuses on potential locations. Local governments will submit access points, infrastructure needs, and a list of activities visitors could enjoy.
Don’t expect to see tour boats appearing anytime soon though. Dailey tells Bay Bulletin, “the only timeline right now, since the whole project is hypothetical at this point, is the grant application.”