DOTD accepts $49.7 million bid for 2 new Cameron ferry boats

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 3:07 PM CDT
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Cameron Parish, La. (KPLC) - The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has accepted a low bid of $49.7 million for the construction of two new ferry boats for the Cameron crossing.

Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors, LLC of Houma bid $49,706,865 for the project.

The new boats, which will be 190 by 50 by 13 feet, will replace the current ferry built in 1964. They will be end-loading vessels that can load large commercial vehicles, according to the DOTD.

The former Cameron Parish administrator, State Rep. Ryan Bourriaque, told us in 2019 that replacing M/V Cameron II was a top priority, as maintenance is a regular inconvenience for travelers.

With the new boats, the ferry service can continue uninterrupted when one vessel undergoes dry docking as per U.S. Coast Guard Regulations, according to the DOTD.

In the past when M/V Cameron II was in drydock, a temporary side-loading ferry was put into service. This allowed passenger vehicles to cross, but trucks longer than about 50 feet were unable to use the ferry and had to detour approximately 100 miles around the Calcasieu Ship Channel, according to the DOTD.

Construction of the two new ferries is expected to begin early next year with an estimated completion in mid-2025.

The two new vessels will help reduce greenhouse gases by using battery-powered electric thrusters. The batteries will be charged by diesel generators on board but can be upgraded to fully electric in the future, according to the DOTD.

“The construction of two new Cameron ferries is exciting news not only for southwest Louisiana, but also for the state and nation,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Cameron Parish is essential to our country’s oil and gas industries, and it’s a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts from all over. The new ferry boats will enhance the parish’s infrastructure and increase the consistency and quality of life for industry, residents, and visitors.”

“The new ferries in Cameron are a welcome addition to our state’s infrastructure system,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson. “Allowing uninterrupted service to all vehicles, including commercial vehicles, is a major advantage to the area’s economic development. With regards to asset management, this will reduce maintenance expenditures and performance disruption. I wish we could modernize our equipment and fleet accordingly. The new ferries will also provide continuity for hurricane evacuation routes in southwest Louisiana. Looking to our future, the boats will allow a greener transit experience with their upgradable electric thrusters.”

In a joint statement, State Sen. Mark Abraham and State Rep. Ryan Bourriaque wrote, ”On behalf of the legislators representing this area, we are proud that this project will become a reality. At the direction of the Cameron Parish Police Jury in 2014, work began on funding requests and grant applications for the replacement of M/V Cameron II, which is now two years shy of its 60th birthday. The only alternative to a reliable ferry at this location is an over two-hour long route to travel some 1,000 feet.”