Essex Ferry may close for Winter

Willsboro resident Rebecca Palmer said she contacted Stewart earlier this month after hearing about the possibility of the ferry closing. She has since been passing out flyers to ferry commuters urging them to contact their local and state officials.

"I applaud Lake Champlain Transportation for really stepping up to the plate when the bridge closed," said Palmer. "What I don't feel Lake Champlain Transportation has done well is being a good steward of communication. They could have done a better job of communicating with residents about what is happening."

LCT has traditionally limited its service to one ferry at the Essex-Charlotte crossing from late December through early April, but without an icebreaker ferry there, the crossing would likely have to close during much of that time.

"Basically, what happens is that Essex is going to be a prisoner of Mother Nature," said Palmer, noting that some people may have to travel an extra 90 miles or more on wintery roads as a detour for their daily commute or regular medical appointments.

Stewart said the Crown Point crossing is anticipated to handle roughly 3,500 cars per day. The Essex-Charlotte ferry carries only 100 cars per day during the winter months. However, she said, ridership on the ferry has more than doubled since the bridge's closing.

New York Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward said LCT has been communicating with her office, VTrans, and the state Department of Transportation to find a solution.

"I have visited Vermont officials and expressed my interest in keeping the Essex crossing open as well as providing coverage at Crown Point," said Sayward, "and everyone is trying to work toward that end."

One of the major issues is weather, said Sayward, noting that LCT has much more flexibility if a contract is approved before the lake ices over. Also, any new boats brought in for use as ferries have to be a specific size to fit the docks.

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