Ferry service being re-considered between Peninsula and Southside


by Philip Townsend


Posted on July 23, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 24 at 6:59 AM

HAMPTON -- The Peninsula and Southside of Hampton Roads may soon be better connected.  There are talks about once again providing ferry service between the two.

Many hope it would ease congestion at the bridge tunnels. 

"Right now, the only way to get from here to Norfolk is going to be the HRBT or the Monitor Merrimac. At any given time, it can be closed due to traffic, breakdowns or anything like that. It can really be a pain," said driver Kelly Forman.

Metro Marine Holdings, the same company behind the Portsmouth paddle wheel, is looking to transport people between the Peninsula and the Southside. The company would use high-speed catamarans that would carry about 150 passengers at a time.  It would not transport cars.  They say the boats would create little wake.

"Anything to alleviate the tunnel situation would make it easier for people on the Peninsula to get to the Southside, so I'm definitely for anything like that," said Forman.

"Sometimes you're in traffic for hours just trying to get through the tunnel," said driver Josephine Wade.

The company proposed a similar plan back in 2010, but they're hoping the idea finally takes off.

Thelma Drake, the state's director of public transportation, backs the proposal - saying that it would alleviate traffic concerns for a much cheaper cost than building a new bridge tunnel.

Metro Marine Holdings is looking to plan a test run of the service sometime in October. If all goes as planned, an introductory route could be operating in less than a year.