May 14, 2011 Statesman Journal Article
tugboat pushed the new Buena Vista Ferry through Salem at a quick clip early
in the afternoon on Friday, May 13, 2011. Crews hoped to get the ferry to
its home slip in Buena Vista that day, while Marion County aims to have it
running and ready to transport vehicles by early to mid June.
It was a scene out of the 19th century as each
river craft greeted the other. The Willamette Queen sternwheeler gave
a series of greeting toots, and the tugboat answered the salvo under sunny
skies above a relatively placid river.
The new Buena Vista Ferry floated through Salem during the
early afternoon today, and under the Independence Bridge around mid
afternoon en route to its permanent slip. Crews from the ferry’s
builder, Diversified Marine, Inc., waved to a handful of onlookers stopped
on the Union Street Bridge to take in the unique river traffic. Others took
in the view from their own riverboats or from the sternwheeler.
Marion County Public Works Capital Projects Manager Rod Bray
said circumstances permitting, the crews hoped to have the craft to its slip
by day’s end. At this point the county appears ahead of its original
conservative timeline for operations. Regular service is anticipated to
resume in early to mid-June with a ribbon cutting and grand opening
celebration in late June.
The ferry’s history runs back to the 19th century,
with the previous craft operating from 1955 through last year. That ferry
was towed down river to Portland last
week. Builders of the new ferry, Diversified Marine, Inc., towed the old one
and will salvage it.
The ferry is one of only three remaining on the Willamette
River; Wheatland and Canby ferries are the others.
Marion County officials noted that the Federal Highway
Administration’s Ferry Boat Discretionary Fund and the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act of 2009 paved way for the replacement, which transpired
through two separate contracts – one for shore-side improvements and the
other to manufacture the new vessel. Oregon Department of Transportation
managed the project with assistance from Marion County Public Works.
The Buena Vista Ferry provides a four-minute shuttle service
crossing of the Willamette River connecting Marion County and Polk County.
Launch location in Marion County is 5 miles west of I-5 via the Talbot Road
exit (Exit 242) and connecting with Buena Vista Road. Launch location in
Polk County is in the township of Buena Vista, on Willamette Ferry Street
just south of Independence. Marion County considers the Buena Vista
Ferry an important link in the county’s rural transportation system to
facilitate regional movement of people, goods, and motorized vehicles, as
well as for recreational use. The new ferry will operate longer each
day and year-round, to the extent possible considering water levels and