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Fayette commissioners to discuss retired Fredericktown Ferry, consider sale

| Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The historic Fredericktown Ferry may be sold now that it is no longer in operation.

Fayette County commissioners on Sept. 17 will discuss options and possibly take action on the idled ferry's fate, including one that will call for placing it up for sale.

Commissioners initially wanted to entertain only a motion to advertise for the ferry's sale. At Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink's suggestion, the proposed motion was modified to include a discussion of all possible options.

Commissioner Al Ambrosini seconded the motion with Zimmerlink's modification, but he said he considers the ferry's sale as the only viable option.

“I just want to make it clear, I'm not going to accept any option that will place the county at any liability or cost going forward,” Ambrosini said.

The 200-year-old, cable-driven ferryboat carried vehicles and pedestrians across the Monongahela River between Fayette and Washington counties. Fees for the two-minute trip were 50 cents for pedestrians and $2 per car, with higher rates for trucks and larger vehicles.

The operation closed last month because of a decline in ridership and revenues.

Average daily ridership dropped from 247 to 90 passengers when the Mon-Fayette Expressway bridge opened last year, county officials said. Before that, the ferry operated for about 15 hours daily, with eight additional hours on Saturdays.

While Washington and Fayette counties shared operating costs, Fayette employed the riverboat pilots and managed the operation.

The ferry posted a $44,678 loss in 2012. The two counties contributed $155,000 toward total operating costs of $238,000 that year, according to county officials.

Fayette Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky said he is aware of several proposals for the ferry's use in retirement, most of which call for placing it in dry dock. One calls for using it for educational purposes, while another would have the ferry used as one stop on a tour of the area's tourist attractions.

Commissioners will discuss options for the ferry at their meeting at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Public Service Building in Uniontown.

Liz Zemba is a reporter for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-601-2166 or lzemba@tribweb.com.

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