Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - When it comes to Buffalo's Outer Harbor, there's always been one big issue.
"Connectivity is what it's all about," said Empire State Development Regional President Sam Hoyt. "When it comes to downtown Buffalo, the Skyway and Ohio Street are the only means of getting to the Outer Harbor currently today."
On Tuesday, Hoyt, along with State Assemblyman Sean Ryan announced a new option to help solve that problem. Construction on a bicycle and pedestrian Ferry that will link Canalside and the Outer Harbor is set to begin next spring.
"Here's the vision of the Bike Ferry and how it works," Ryan said. "You walk around here, it looks pretty good. You get an ice cream cone and you say 'let's go see what's going on at the Outer Harbor.' You pay your token, you get to the Outer Harbor, and before your ice cream cone is gone you're at the top of the historic Buffalo Lighthouse."
Ryan says the ferry, which will be able to hold about 50 people, will serve mainly as a means of transportation rather than a leisure activity. "We anticipate it running at least three times an hour, so we're viewing this as transportation. If you're working at the medical campus and you want to get out to go fishing you take the train down, walk over here, and hop on the ferry."
While it's not as big a project as a new bridge to the Outer Harbor, both Hoyt and Ryan think it can help with smaller waterfront problems such as parking at Canalside. Anyone coming from the southtowns would be able to park on the Outer Harbor, then take the ferry to Canalside for a concert or arena event.
Ryan envisions the Ferry costing about Two Dollars to ride. The New York Power Authority is funding the cost of engineering the project, which is currently underway.The ferry service is expected to begin operating next June.