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Current Staten Island Ferry Fleet is Outdated---Some Vessels are Over Thirty or Fifty Years Old; Hurricane Sandys Damage Underscored the Need for Ferry Infrastructure that Offer Critical Resiliency In the Face of Future Extreme Weather

Earlier This Year, Schumer & Gillibrand Urged Feds to Provide Funding from FTAs Hurricane Sandy Resilience Program for NYC DOTs Comprehensive Ferry Transit Resiliency Application

Schumer, Gillibrand, de Blasio Announce Millions in Feder

U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced $191,550,000 in federal funding for two new storm resilient ferry boats on Staten Island, Staten Island Ferry Facilities' Floodproofing Resilience Upgrade and Ferry Landings Resilience Upgrades at strategic locations citywide. Earlier this month, Schumer and Gillibrand urged the Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide federal funding for these upgrades as part of the third tranche of disaster Federal Transit Authority (FTA) funding from the Sandy Relief Bill.


First, the new vessels will be more capable of operating in a wider range of conditions and locations. With a recent increase in severe storms, service outages due to weather will become more common for the older vessels and so, the modern and updated vessels are sorely needed. Second, the new vessels will be able to better respond to emergencies and be able to handle large volumes of people in the event of an evacuation. Lastly, the project will support citywide transit continuity by modifying several landings at key locations to accommodate the more maneuverable new generation of ferries. The new ferries offer a greater capacity than small private ferries typically used at these landings and this could provide critical support to rail transit services faced with outages. The terminal and landing upgrades are part of the City's comprehensive resiliency plan.


"Following the unspeakable devastation on Staten Island wrought by Superstorm Sandy, with this massive federal investment - that we fought so hard to secure - we can truly say that Staten Island's ships have come in," said  Senator Schumer. "After Sandy, we were again reminded how important ferries are to our transit system during emergencies, and that's why we need modern, resilient and reliable ferries that our Staten Island commuters and emergency response personnel can rely on. This announcement of over $190 million is some of the best news ever for Staten Island commuters; I'm proud to have worked closely with my colleagues, Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg to secure this federal funding."


"This is a major investment for Staten Island's critical transportation infrastructure," said  Senator Gillibrand. "After Superstorm Sandy tore through Staten Island, our communities were left with unprecedented damage. This funding will be put to good use, with upgrades to vital ferry fleets and flood proofing of facilities. I will continue to work with my colleagues to ensure our communities are able to make a full recovery, with even stronger infrastructure that can better withstand future storms."


"The Staten Island Ferry is a lifeline that's vital to New York City's economy and to the health and safety of our people. These upgrades will improve commutes for thousands of Staten Islanders and ensure we have more reliable, more flexible ferry service when emergencies strike-a key part of our comprehensive resiliency plan. We are deeply grateful to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and to our congressional delegation for working with the US Department of Transportation to make this critical investment," said  Mayor de Blasio.


"This $191 million grant ensures that the City has the necessary resources to respond in times of need and provide transportation options to all areas of the city," said  Congressman Meeks. "Rebuilding from Superstorm Sandy  has required engagement of all stakeholders, from local, state, and federal partners.  Innovative solutions such as extending ferry service to the Rockaways, has had a significant and positive economic impact on our region.  It is imperative that we utilize every resource at our disposal to make sure that we rebuild the right way, improve our resiliency, and develop transportation infrastructure for all residents, one that will withstand whatever nature throws at our great City."    


"This funding will provide better ferry service for the 22 million passengers who ride the Staten Island Ferry every year, and better prepare New York City for future storms," said  DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. "On behalf of our dedicated Ferry division and the commuters and tourists who ride the ferry every single day, I want to thank USDOT, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and our congressional delegation for their support in making our ferry system safer and more resilient."


The funding will support the NYC Department of Transportation's (NYC DOT) Comprehensive Ferry Transit Resiliency plan, which Schumer and Gillibrand urged the FTA to support earlier this year. There are three main resiliency benefits of the project.


First, the funding will be used for two new 4,500 passenger vessels for the Staten Island ferry system. The modern ferries will offer critical protection and replace two vessels that have reached their useful life. The new boats will have 4 modern cycloidal drives each, along with side doors, which will allow them to operate in more extreme weather conditions and dock at other terminals around the city in case of emergency. NYCDOT has already funded the design of the new ferry fleet and now, this funding help NYC DOT move forward with construction.


Second, funding will be used to for dry and wet floodproofing protective resilience upgrades at the St. George and Whitehall terminals to protect against the type of damage experienced during Sandy.


Third, funding will also be used to modify facilities at critical locations to accommodate the new vessels, while hardening the landings against damage from future storms and the effects of sea level rise.  The landing enhancement would be at four locations - Hunters Point and E. 34 th Street as the priority and two others, at least one of which would likely be in Brooklyn.  There will be two "flex barges," capable of being deployed to multiple locations, in addition to the four modified landings.


The Staten Island Ferry provides 22 million people a year (70,000 passengers a day, not including weekend days) with ferry service between St. George on Staten Island and Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan. The ferry is the only nonvehicular mode of transportation between Staten Island and Manhattan. NYC DOT operates and maintains the ninevessel fleet as well as the St. George Ferry Terminal on Staten Island, Whitehall Ferry Terminal in Manhattan, the City Island and Hart Island Facilities, The Battery Maritime Building and all floating dock building equipment.


The current Staten Island ferry fleet includes a number of aging and outdated vessels. For example, the fleet includes the 33 year old Barberi and Newhouse ships as well as the nearly 50 year old Kennedy ship.