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Funding the Ferry (in Phases)

Escambia County will soon request additional grant funding for the ferry landing site planned for Quietwater Beach. The county project is part of a larger effort to bring ferry service to Pensacola, Pensacola Beach and a third site located at Fort Pickens, within the Gulf Island National Seashore.
Escambia County Board of County Commissioners will be asked this week to give the go-ahead to a request to the Federal Highway Administration for Eastern Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) funding. Whatever amount the county is ultimately awarded will be put towards the $3.5 million ferry project.

Because there is only $5 million of FLAP funding available statewide during each four-year funding cycle, Escambia has divided its ferry project into prioritized phases. In the event the county doesn’t secure the total required funding, portions of the project can be completed on a priority basis.

Escambia County Commission Chairman Grover Robinson discusses ferry service plans in July.

In 2015, Escambia was awarded $783,551 in FLAP funding, which went towards phase one of the ferry project; as per a 20 percent match-agreement, the county contributed $195,888 towards this work. Phase one, currently underway, includes water-side improvement to the existing Quietwater Beach pier, as well as the construction of a ticket kiosk and accessibility upgrades. This work is expected to be completed in time for ferry service to commence by May 2017.

Phase two involves widening the existing pier from eight to 16 feet. This is expected to cost $873,625, with the county hoping to get $698,900 in FLAP funding.

Phase three of the project is the most costly, at a total of $1,450,000. This phase pertains to the passenger waiting area on the beach boardwalk. Plans call for placing a “palapa style shade shelter” over the existing amphitheater area located near the pier, and rebuilding the existing seating with composite decking “adjusted to integrate with the new shade shelter.” This work is similar to a sheltered area at Fort Pickens which received FLAP funding; Escamiba is hoping for $1,160,000 in grant funding for the phase.

If Escambia County receives the grant funding it is applying for, the local match obligation will come to just under $700,000, or 20 percent of the total cost for the county’s portion of the ferry project. Commissioners will sign off on the funding request application during this week’s board meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Oct. 6, at the county’s downtown complex.

jeremy morrison :