Potential Buyer Eyes Unused Ferry

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
13 November 2013
By Mary Pickels, Staff Reporter
Mary Pickels 724-836-5401

The landmark Fredericktown Ferry, which carried passengers and vehicles across the Monongahela River between Fayette and Washington counties for 200 years, could be sold next week.

Fayette County commissioners on Tuesday agreed to place on their agenda for next week a proposal from Blank River Services Inc. of Elizabeth to purchase the cable-driven ferry for $20,000.

The company's website lists it as a “repair and fabrication facility.”

Commissioner Al Ambrosini said he doesn't know the company's plans for the ferry. A message left for owner Richard Blank was not returned.

The sale of the ferry could mean a savings of about $150,000 in annual costs to operate it, Ambrosini said. Fayette owns the ferry and for decades shared operating costs with Washington County.

The ferry service — it cost 50 cents for passengers, $2 per car and a bit more for trucks — was discontinued at the end of August because daily ridership fell from about 250 to 90 when the Mon-Fayette Expressway bridge opened.

In May, Fayette commissioners decided to dock the ferry because of the drop in revenue.

A township in Washington County had asked Fayette to hand over the ferry so it could be preserved for history. East Bethlehem officials wanted to move the ferry onto a riverbank to be used as a historical attraction.

Paul Battaglini, president of East Bethlehem's board of commissioners, said the ferry could become part of an existing park in Fredericktown, where it would attract more visitors to the community's popular annual river festival.

Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at mpickels@tribweb.com or 724-836-5401.