The Steamship Authority governors Tuesday authorized $2.5 million in repairs for the Oak Bluffs ferry terminal, which was damaged in Hurricane Sandy.
The main pier section of the Oak Bluffs terminal was damaged by rough seas and high waves during the storm. The storm damage repairs have qualified for reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the authority will be reimbursed up to 75 per cent of the cost, Steamship Authority general manager Wayne Lamson said.
The pier will be redesigned with steel piles and steel caps to minimize future damage, a report by director of engineering and maintenance Carl Walker said, whereas the failed parts of the pier were constructed of wood.
The largest portion of the repair project is $1.8 million and will go out to bid Feb. 5, with repairs to be done within 90 days of the contract being awarded. The project will involve removing damaged electrical equipment, lighting, pier decking, stringers, pile caps and wooden piles and replacing the wooden piles with steel piles and caps, installing new wooden stringers, re-decking the pier and making repairs to electrical and lighting systems.
“It’s a very tight schedule,” Mr. Lamson acknowledged.
The second part of the project, estimated to cost $730,000, will go out to bid Jan. 17. It consists of supplying 46 steel piles and eight steel pile caps.
The governors also authorized awarding a contract for dry-dock and overhaul services for the M/V Island Home, which is scheduled to be in the shipyard from March 8 through April 9 for a required US Coast Guard hull exam, underwater hull cleaning and painting, installation of sewage holding tanks and evacuation piping, and machinery inspection and repairs. Approximately $562,000 is budgeted for the repairs.
In other business, the board got a look at the Steamship Authority’s new website, which is set to be launched in the next four to six weeks. The website includes new features, including a GPS ferry tracker, filters for Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard residents to customize their information, and updates on ferries and parking lot availability.
The website will be launched in time for the busy season, which got off to an early start Tuesday, opening day for making summer ferry reservations. Mr. Lamson said that as of 9 a.m., the authority had processed almost $1.4 million in transactions. The first reservation came at 1:19 a.m., he said, and almost 6,000 reservations have been made.
Despite some misgivings, the board also approved participation in a ferry compact created by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Office of Transportation Planning, which will “examine opportunities to provide additional transportation mobility options for the commonwealth’s residents and visitors,” a staff summary of the proposal said.
Mr. Lamson said the Office of Transportation Planning recognizes that Island residents depend on the Steamship Authority, and that there is no intention to interfere with or change the authority’s autonomy. He said the authority, as the largest ferry system in the state, should have a seat at the table.
Some authority members said they had concerns about joining the group, and Mr. Lamson said he shared those concerns about the state taking over. But, he said, he didn’t see that happening. The board ended up voting unanimously in favor of joining the compact.
A report from treasurer Robert Davis said in 2012, passengers traffic was up by about 3.4 per cent, and up 2.5 per cent on the Vineyard, making it the second highest traffic year in the last decade for the Vineyard route.
And while it’s still too early to have a solid estimate of how the authority ended the year financially, Mr. Davis said, they will likely end up in the black.
The meeting started with remembrance of H. Flint Ranney, the Nantucket governor who died on Dec. 21. Mr. Ranney’s son, Robert, was appointed in his place and now serves as chairman of the board. Tuesday was his first meeting.
Mr. Lamson remembered the elder Mr. Ranney’s eight years of service on the board, “his dedicated service and his many contributions.”
A ferry horn sounded just before the board observed a moment of silence.