J. Louise Larson, Arrow Lakes News
Nakusp’s ferry advisory committee got the news Monday afternoon.
The Province will issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to start the process to replace the aging ferries that have plied Upper Arrow Lake in the Kootenay region for more than 40 years.
Ongoing complaints about waits on the aged ferry from Galena Bay to Shelter Bay recently prompted a local action
group to form the Beaton Arm Crossing Association and reactivate initiative towards putting a fixed point crossing – possibly a bridge/dam combination at Beaton Arm.
The group has gathered a number of support letters from area officials, including RDCK Executive Director Paul Peterson and the Village of Nakusp.
In 2010, the existing ferries on Upper Arrow Lake carried 231,993 automobile equivalents and 325,572 passengers, according to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
Ferry service will not be interrupted at any time during the ferry replacement process, which will take approximately three years, including crew training, a spokeswoman said.
The RFQ will be released in early July and is expected to be open for approximately six weeks. Up to three respondents to the RFQ will be shortlisted for the second stage – the request for proposal. It is expected the final decision will be made by the end of 2011 to have the new vessel ready in 2014.
Inland ferries are used on routes where lake or river crossings are a less-costly alternative to constructing roads or bridges, the ministry spokesperson said, citing the Upper Arrow Lake route between Galena and Shelter Bays as a 20-minute crossing that reduces a car trip from Nelson to Revelstoke from eight hours to four hours.
The vessels are part of the inland ferry service operated by private contractors on behalf of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
“Rural communities rely on these ferry connections for safe, efficient and reliable transportation. As part of our commitment to families living in rural areas, and to ensure their transportation needs are met, we are starting the process to replace the aging ferries on the Upper Arrow Lake route,” said Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Lekstrom.