Montgomery County, in Partnership with Loudoun County and Capital Infrastructure, Announces White’s Ferry Study Underway and On Time; Meeting to be Held in Poolesville on Wednesday, Aug. 18
Per Montgomery County:
For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 17, 2021
The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) announced today that it is working with the Loudoun County Department of Transportation and Capital Infrastructure (DTCI) on a study of White’s Ferry’s operations. Both counties have a common goal of reestablishing daily ferry service. The study, which is on schedule, is designed to provide information to ensure that the ferry, when it reopens, is positioned to provide reliable service for the long term and maximum value to users.
The study began on June 23. A study report providing recommendations is expected to be finalized in late September.
MCDOT, along with other Maryland and local officials, will participate in a public meeting hosted by the Town of Poolesville Fair Access Committee from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 18, at the Poolesville Town Hall. The building is located at 19721 Beall St. in, Poolesville.
The meeting in Poolesville will provide an opportunity for the public to meet the new owner of the ferry and hear updates on the efforts in partnership thus far as Maryland and Virginia officials work together to get the ferry reopened for the long term.
“Since operations of White’s Ferry ended last December, we have been working with our partners in Loudoun County to resume service as soon as possible,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich. “This study is a critical step in this process and will help answer the crucial question of ‘when will the ferry return?’ Restoring the operation of White’s Ferry, to cross the Potomac River between Montgomery County and Loudoun County, is important to reducing travel times for many of our residents. We are committed to working with Loudoun County officials and local stakeholders to ensure a dependable long-term solution is put in place immediately.”
Ferry service across the Potomac River is recognized as an important part of the region’s transportation network. White’s Ferry ceased operations on Dec. 28, 2020, following a Circuit Court opinion in a private lawsuit over the use of land for the ferry landing. White’s Ferry’s operation has been traced to 1786. It was the last of about 100 ferries that shuttled passengers across the Potomac River.
Prior to closing, White’s Ferry transported approximately 600 to 800 vehicles per day across the river and connected bicyclists and pedestrians between Leesburg in Loudoun County and Poolesville in Montgomery County.
“I know that these past months have been challenging for Montgomery County residents who rely on the ferry for their travel and for the small businesses who rely upon the ferry traffic for customers,” said MCDOT Director Chris Conklin. “I want to assure the public that Montgomery County is working closely with all levels of government, both in Maryland and Virginia, to get the ferry reopened. The ferry is a critical part of our transportation network, and this study, along with hard work and collaboration by local officials, aims to reopen the ferry in a way the public can count on for the long term.”
The study’s scope includes an assessment of the following:
- Roadway access and ferry use along with any other pertinent transportation issues.
- Identifying legal and regulatory requirements associated with ferry operations.
- Landing site improvements and landing location options.
- Operating alternatives that may include a public/private partnership.
- Extensive outreach to area stakeholders and similar ferry operators in other locations
“Reestablishing this critical transportation connection across the Potomac River is essential to our regional mobility, economy and quality of life,” said Montgomery County District 1 Councilmember Andrew Friedson. “Regional solutions require regional collaboration and we are grateful to Loudoun County for partnering with us, along with our state and local partners, so we can return ferry service our residents and businesses need as quickly as possible.”
Since the study kickoff, multiple stakeholders have been engaged to ensure that the study results in meaningful findings. The final report will look at information from past operating data from the previous owner; operating lessons learned from other small ferry operators across the United States; and input from related organizations such as the National Parks Service and the C&O Canal Trust.