The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) said on Thursday, Oct. 5, it has received the apparent low bid for two new ferries for the Cameron crossing in Cameron Parish.
The apparent low bidder is Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors of Houma with a bid of $49.7 million.
The new boats will be 190 feet by 50 feet by 13 feet and will replace the M/V Cameron II, built in 1964.
The boats will be end-loading vessels to load and unload large commercial vehicles.
Construction is expected to begin early next year with an estimated completion in mid-2025.
Two boats will be built so that ferry service will continue uninterrupted when one vessel undergoes dry docking under U.S. Coast Guard regulations.
In a joint statement, state Sen. Mark Abraham (Dist. 25) and state Rep. Ryan Bourriaque (Dist. 47) said the following:
“At the direction of the Cameron Parish Police Jury in 2014, work began on funding requests and grant applications for the replacement of M/V Cameron II, which is now two years shy of its 60th birthday. The only alternative to a reliable ferry at this location is an over two-hour-long route to travel some 1,000 feet.
There are few projects we have been fortunate enough to work on in our time in public service that are as impactful and needed as the Cameron ferry project. This one project has quality of life, economic competitiveness, tourism, and public safety implications that are beyond measure.”
“Cameron Parish is essential to our country’s oil and gas industries, and it’s a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts from all over,” Governor John Bel Edwards said in a statement. “The new ferry boats will enhance the parish’s infrastructure and increase the consistency and quality of life for industry, residents, and visitors.”
“Allowing uninterrupted service to all vehicles, including commercial vehicles, is a major advantage to the area’s economic development,” said DOTD Secretary Shawn Wilson. “The new ferries will also provide continuity for hurricane evacuation routes in Southwest Louisiana.”
In the past when M/V Cameron II was in drydock, a temporary side-loading ferry was put into service. This allowed passenger vehicles to cross, but trucks longer than about 50 feet were unable to use the ferry and had to detour approximately 100 miles around the Calcasieu Ship Channel. The two new boats will allow ferry service of commercial vehicles to continue uninterrupted.
The Cameron ferry averaged 153,500 vehicles and 480 passengers per year between fiscal year 2018 and fiscal year 2021.