Ferry a welcome service for Wilcox

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A small, rural community in Wilcox County celebrated a milestone Tuesday with the groundbreaking for the Gees Bend Ferry Terminal.

This event is the first official celebration of the federal government’s guarantee that the Gees Bend ferry will be funded for the next two years.

County Commissioner Mark Curl said the complicated effort has been worth it. He added that it’s been the culmination of a dream his father had to re-open the ferry.

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A federal grant, which is a line item in the 2004-2005 federal budget, allocates $2 million to the Alabama Department of Transportation for the Gees Bend Ferry project. One and a half million dollars is to be used for ferry operations and $500,000 can be used for the building of two terminals – one on the Camden side and the other on the Gees Bend Ferry side of the Alabama river.

Under the terms of the grant, Wilcox County is providing matching funds of $500,000.

The Hornblower company operates the ferry service, which carries 1,000 cars and 1,600 passengers per month. The fare is $3 per car and $1 per person.

The ferry serves as a mode of transportation to cut the one-hour drive from Gees Bend to Camden to about 15 to 20 minutes. But, it also serves as a tourism draw, taking visitors on a scenic ride down the Alabama River.

Hopefully, the ferry will be in operation for a long time to come.