By Keith Laing - 06/09/14 02:39 PM EDT
The Department of Transportation is touting $123.5 million in grants for ferry services that have been awarded in recent weeks.
The grants are being used to boost passenger ferry service is places like New York City and Washington, D.C.
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan and Federal Highway Administration (FHA) Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau said Monday that are often an overlooked aspect of public transportation.
"For most transit commuters, bus or rail make the most sense, but in many communities, ferry service plays an important role," the duo continued. "And larger ferries, capable of carrying vehicles, can even help folks who drive get across waterways to their destination."
The grants are being paid for with money that was included in the last federal transportation bill for the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) Passenger Ferry Grant Program and the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Ferry Boat and Ferry Terminals Facilities Program.
The DOT officials wrote that the grants "will support existing ferry service on many of the nation’s waterways; establish new ferry service where it is needed most; and help to repair and modernize ferry boats, terminals, and related facilities that thousands of residents in these communities depend on."
McMillan and Nadeau said the transportation department would be able to spend more money to boost ferry service in the U.S. if lawmakers approve legislation this summer to prevent a bankruptcy in transportation funding that has been projected to occur as early as August without congressional action.
The DOT officials touted the $302 billion transportation bill proposal that President Obama sent to Congress as the best solution to the problem.
"If our surface transportation funding expires or the Highway Trust Fund runs out, America's ferries could be left high and dry," the DOT officials wrote.
"Grow America, the legislative proposal that Secretary Foxx sent to Congress earlier this spring will do exactly that," McMillan and Nadeau. "Investing in ferry service and in the roads, rails, and buses that connect Americans to jobs, education, and other destinations is critical if we want to keep our economy growing and our nation moving forward."