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Albemarle aid may give Hatton Ferry a reprieve
Albemarle hopes to keep Hatton Ferry running by guaranteeing funds through summer

Date published: 6/18/2009

By Rob Hedelt

THE HATTON FERRY may be running all summer after all.

In Tuesday's column on the historic vessel near Scottsville--one of the last two pole-powered public ferries in the continental U.S.--I noted that VDOT was slated to shut down the weekends-only service across the James River by June 28.

I noted that Albemarle County residents and officials who value the ferry's history and its appeal to tourists hoped to find a way to save it.

That's now a better possibility, with Albemarle officials moving to guarantee funding to run the ferry from July through September, the busiest months for the two-car transport.

The ferry, which runs Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., normally shuts down for the year by mid-October anyway.

Lee Catlin, Albemarle's community relations director, said the Board of Supervisors learned in May that VDOT intended to shut down the ferry as part of cutbacks being implemented in the face of rising costs and falling revenues.

"We know how much the ferry means to the county and to people in this area, and the hope has been to save it if possible," she said. "The hope is that there is enough community support to provide the money needed to keep the ferry going."

Catlin said county officials hope to get some of that funding from community sources in the coming weeks and to find a long-term answer to keep it operating in the future.

But she said the reality is that in order for a working agreement extending the service to be ironed out, VDOT wants money for the ferry's operation provided up front.

"We're talking about roughly $8,000 to keep going through September," said Catlin, who noted that supervisors have agreed to fund the next quarter of operations.

The slight hang-up: Though the county supervisors have agreed in broad terms to that funding, VDOT needs tangible action, the appropriation of funds, before an agreement can be made. That can't happen until the Albemarle board meets again in the first week of July.

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