Sandy Island to get Alabama ferry for full time service

GEORGETOWN COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Residents of Sandy Island in Georgetown County will soon have regular, year-round ferry service.  The island, bordered by the Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers and two creeks is accessible only by boat, as there is no bridge to the community.

The Federal Highway Administration approved a SCDOT application to take control of a boat that had been being used as a ferry in Alabama.  The agency running that service had no funding to continue operations, and the FHA took ownership of the vessel.

SCDOT and the Maine DOT had applied for use of the 60 foot ferry.  Maine's plan was to use the boat as a backup ferry to an island that had no permanent residents.

FHWA Administrator Victor M. Mendez approved the transfer of the vessel to SCDOT on November 24.  SCDOT Secretary H.B. Limehouse, Jr. said the ferry will be operated by the Coast Rural Transit Authority.

Limehouse said the benefits of this ferry are two-fold.  "The island residents will not only have regular transportation to get to the mainland for their jobs, medical care and every day trips for shopping and other routine activities, but they will now have a safe 60-foot vessel on which to travel," said Limehouse.

The Sandy Island ferry is eligible for the existing Federal Transit Administration funding Coast RTA already receives.  The ferry would be treated as if it were another public transportation alternative being provided under existing services.  Therefore, there will be no additional costs to the state.

The need for regular ferry service was highlighted when three people drowned in an accident between the mainland and Sandy Island in 2008.

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