Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 30th, 2012 at 10:35 am
The Clackamas County Board of County Commissioners could approve a $2 fee for people with bicycles who hop on the Canby Ferry to cross the Willamette River south of Wilsonville. Facing a strapped operational budget and a costly engine upgrade, Commissioners had considered closing it altogether; but overwhelming support for the ferry as a tourist draw from both the public and the Canby Chamber of Commerce has now set them on a new course.
A recent survey made it clear that not only was the ferry popular, but surprisingly over 80% of the respondents said they'd be willing to pay more to use it. And these days, a County is not likely to pass up an opportunity to generate transportation revenue — especially one that is popular with the public.
Notes from a Clackamas County staff recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners in advance of their meeting tomorrow, lays out details of the new fee structure. Check the table of existing and proposed fees below (taken from the "Study Session Worksheet"):
As you can see, walkers would remain free, people on bikes would go from free to $2, motorcycle riders would see their fare go up by $1 (to $2 as well), and everyone else would pay twice as much to ride. Based on $4 per vehicle, the County estimates they'll generate $241,600 in annual revenue from ferry trips (cutting its annual operating subsidy by half to $175,000 per year).
Over the past six months, Clackamas County has counted 2,500 people on bikes using the ferry.
The staff report said a larger fee for people in cars was considered, but that anything more than $4 would cause too many of them to simply not use the ferry. The cost of driving 10 miles around the ferry would be about $5.50 (based on federal reimbursement rate of 55 cents per mile).
County staff are recommending that the board approve the new fee structure effective July 1, 2012.
Interestingly, the staff report also says they've considered building a new bridge between Canby and Wilsonville. Estimates put its cost at $20-$25 million and it would be paid for in part by a $2 per vehicle toll. However, given its cost — and the fact that the ferry's new propulsion system (being installed this summer thanks to a federal grant) will extend its life another 10 years — Clackamas County isn't moving forward with the bridge option.
The Board of County Commissioners is expected to vote on the staff recommendations at a study session tomorrow (5/1) at 1:30 pm (Public Services Bldg., 2051 Kaen Rd. in Oregon City).