Crossing Jordan

Ferry project proposed to link
Ohio County with Northern Ky.

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

RISING SUN, Ind. (February 2006) – The Rising Sun-Ohio County Port Authority has proposed a project to develop a ferry service that would provide transportation across the Ohio River at Rising Sun, Ind., to a site between Rabbit Hash, Ky., and McVille, Ky., in Boone County. While this project has actually been discussed for years, it looks as though it is finally gaining momentum on both sides of the river.

Rising Sun Ferry Map

Ed Sullivan, executive director of the Regional Economic Development Foundation in Rising Sun, Ind., said that the project is in its very beginning stages. He said that it will be at least three to four months before the direction the project takes becomes clearer, and as long as a year to get the project up and working if it is accepted.
At this point the project has to be approved by the Boone County Planning Commission, which will need to change the zoning of the proposed site. It will then have to receive permits from various agencies, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. After that, a service provider will have to work out operational plans, such as rates and hours of operation.
Tammy Elbright, executive director for Historic Downtown Rising Sun Main Street Program, said that the ferry project has been addressed a few times in the past 10 years but recent actions on both sides suggest that now is the best chance for the project to succeed.
“The major obstacle has been to get both the Kentucky and Indiana sides to agree together,” Elbright said.
Apparently, opposition for the project has come mainly from critics who feel that the ferry would be beneficial to Indiana, but not Kentucky, residents. Gary Brett, president of the Rising Sun-Ohio County Port Authority, said, “There are those on the Kentucky side who feel that we are only providing the ferry service because of the Grand Victoria Casino and Resort, which is located in Rising Sun.”
However, Brett and other proponents of the ferry project argue that the ferry would be an economically wise decision for both sides of the Ohio River. Brett said that Northern Kentucky is one of the quickest growing areas, economically, with business and job opportunities rapidly expanding. The ferry would provide businesses and industries access to available workers from both sides of the river.
A ferry would also provide a quicker way for Indiana residents to get to Kentucky businesses. Evidently, residents of Rising Sun and surrounding Indiana counties travel to Florence, Ky., to do most of their major shopping and to take care of other business needs. Florence, a minor city situated across the river from Cincinnati, offers shopping malls and other attractions that are not available to Indiana residents in their local areas.
However, traffic congestion seems to be a serious problem along the only route available to Indiana residents to get to Florence. Residents of many counties in southern Indiana must travel on Hwy. 56 to Lawrenceburg, and then on to I-275 through the Cincinnati area to get to Florence.
“If traffic is good, it will take 45-60 minutes to get from Rising Sun to Florence. If not, it can be a major problem,” Elbright said.
With construction on Hwy. 50 and Hwy. 56 in Lawrenceburg and Aurora about to make the situation worse, all officials involved in the project agree that travel time could be cut in half and traffic congestion in the entire area eased considerably by the shorter water route a ferry would provide.
Officials are also excited about the impact on tourism that a ferry could have. Sullivan anticipates that offering a shorter route through the area will bring more tourism and other business to the Rising Sun and Ohio Valley area. Elbright hopes that the ferry itself would be a tourist attraction. She said that there is a unique history of ferry operations between Rising Sun and Rabbit Hash.
“A new ferry would certainly add to the heritage of the area,” she said.
While acknowledging that a shorter route would definitely help increase area business, Brett also said, “A ferry ride across the river would be a chance to just relax and enjoy the view.”

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