Tag Archives: State Legislature

Mayport Ferry Update

Ferry DockingWe heard from Councilman Bill Gulliford Monday night at our First Coast Republican Club meeting on the status of the Mayport ferry. While nothing’s been resolved just yet, Councilman Gulliford said there is a great deal of activity going on in an effort to keep the A1A connection … connected.

The bad news is that the ferry needs some $4 to $4.5 million in repairs. That doesn’t go at all to operating costs. Councilman Gulliford seems to think that there may be some untapped grant money out there that can go towards getting the boat back up to par.

We heard about the responsibility of the state to maintain a contiguous A1A. The short ferry ride connects a state highway, which would have to be re-routed around to the Dames Point bridge. And it’s pretty well understood that any Mayport revival will be nearly impossible without the traffic the ferry brings.

A1A SignBut the ferry is also considered historic by some. It was mentioned that it might be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the only auto ferry between Miami and Ocracoke Island in north Carolina. It is a unique resource which everyone loves, but no one apparently wants to pay for.

A question was asked how high the fare would have to be to make the ferry self-sustaining. Mr. Gulliford said it would have to double to $10 each way and maintain its current ridership … which if the fare were doubled is pretty unlikely. How much would ridership increase if the fare were rolled back to $2.50? Maybe not enough, but some.

From his position on the council, Gulliford is advocating an umbrella organization that would take responsibility for running the ferry. The citizens of the beach, he said, poke their heads up to save it every time it’s threatened, and once a “band-aid” is applied, go back to napping on the issue. That, he says, is part of the problem. There seems to be a feeling that the band-aid will somehow not need to be changed at some point, and we’re surprised when it does.

There is a lot of activity. Former Council President Elaine Brown is chairing a task force to save the ferry, which will have an organizational meeting Monday night at the Mayport community center at the launching ramp in the village. Mr. Gulliford said he was going to bend the Mayor’s ear at a breakfast Tuesday morning.

Floirda SealIn Tallahassee, representative Janet Adkins, who lives in Fernandina Beach, held a meeting to discuss the issue. The Florida Times-Union reports that Adkins advocates a public-private partnership to operate the ferry, but it should be paid for by stakeholders. Those would include several city and county governments, as well as the state.

“As you are getting your budgets together, as if you would be willing to fund a little piece,” she said, according to the paper. The president of the Friends of the St. Johns River took a different, and somewhat more pessimistic tack. The loss of the ferry would “(leave) the businesses along these routes to a slow economic death,” he said.

But  everyone is crying poverty. From FDOT, which arguably should maintain the boat because it connects a state highway, to the city of Jacksonville to the port, no one says they have any money for the ferry. The state, through JTA, seems to have no trouble subsidizing the Skyway, which has never realized anything close to its ridership potential. But to move 100,000 cars across the river every year, not a dime.

The good news is, the community is not going to let the ferry go down with out fight. It’s worth saving. But councilman Gulliford is correct. We should do a better job this time so that we don’t wind up a few years down the road having to go through the entire exercise again.



Leave a comment

Filed under A1A, Beach Living, Local Government, Local Issues, Mayport, Mayport Ferry, State Budget

State of the State

Governor Crist gives his “State of the State” speech tomorrow night at 6:00 … and for the first time since I’ve lived in the state of Florida, I may not be able to watch.

Not to say I might not record it and watch it later, but at 6:00 tomorrow, I’ll be at a networking event, working the room, making the connections that will eventually lead to a new career, or at the very least help me when I find it.  The economy that should be the focus of the speech will be the reason I won’t be around to watch.

The state legislature faces daunting challenges this session.  On the news tonight were stories about potentially draconian cuts in school budgets due to the economy.  Governor Crist will probably announce plans to use federal stimulus money to plug some of the budget gaps.  I’d like to be able to sit across the table from him again to ask about the wisdom of using one-time dollars for recurring expenses.  I know we’re all hoping for a quick economic recovery, but with the Dow slipping well below 7,000 today for the first time in decades, maybe holding one’s breath isn’t such a great idea.

Meanwhile, there was this quote from House-Speaker-Designate Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park) in the “Capital Update” blog in The Tallahassee Democrat:

“Some look at these complex problems and see a simple solution — more money. They argue that we simply need to raise taxes and spend our way out of our current problems. They seem to believe there’s a magical dollar figure — although no one has ever shared with me what it is — that if we could just spend the right amount our problems would fade away. I know the magic number isn’t $73 billion, because that’s what we spent during my second session, and I still heard every conceivable interest group claim they were underfunded.”

And so it begins.


Celebration 1 Along with the stories about shrinking school budgets was the story that Jaxport has shelved plans for a cruise terminal in Mayport for the time being.  The Jaxport board cited uncertain economic times as the principal reason they wouldn’t be seeking rezoning on the waterfront properties where the terminal would be built.  One of the Mayport residents I saw interviewed said “it’s over”, which is probably far from the case.  But for now, it’s on the back burner.  It’d be prudent now to watch the fate of the Mayport Ferry … which is now indefinitely out of service.  The return date on the signs have been covered over by duct tape.  Not a good omen.


Five minutes to post and not miss today.  I’ve really got to start writing earlier.



Leave a comment

Filed under Cruise Terminal, Legislature, Mayport, News