Survey says: Six-car is ferry of people's choice

By Lynn R. Parks

When the new ferry arrives in Woodland, it will be capable of carrying six cars.
Last week, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) announced that it had decided on the larger ferry, despite the objections of some citizens of Woodland and the endorsement of a three-car ferry by the Woodland Ferry Association. DelDOT spokesman Darrel Cole cited a survey the agency conducted of 390 ferry riders, in which 52 percent said they preferred the larger ferry. Of the riders, 35 percent preferred that the vessel remain a three-car ferry and 13 percent had no opinion. “That survey was a determining factor,” Cole said.
Cole added that DelDOT has an obligation to consider traffic loads in the future. “We have a responsibility to consider what the area will be like in 10, 15, 20 years,” he said. “We can’t control growth, but for us not to plan for it would be irresponsible.” Bill Royal, founder and still member of the Woodland Ferry Association, said that he is afraid of the impact a larger ferry will have on the small village of Woodland. “It is part of the association’s bylaws to maintain the quaintness of our town, and I feel that to some degree that will be destroyed,” he said. But he was not surprised by state’s decision. “I think [the state] had it all decided before they held any town meetings,” he said. The state decided last fall that the 43-year-old ferry needed to be replaced. At a public meeting held in early December, DelDOT engineers presented plans for a six-car ferry and for a three-car ferry. At that time, the Woodland Ferry Association had endorsed the six-car ferry.
In January, however, 28 citizens of Woodland signed a letter to DelDOT, saying that the six-car ferry would “spoil the uniqueness” of Woodland. The ferry association later changed its endorsement to that of a three-car ferry. On March 8, Royal asked the Seaford City Council to endorse a three-car ferry, which it did.
The new ferry will be 30 feet 4 inches wide and will cost about $800,000. Work to upgrade the landing areas will cost between $750,000 and $900,000, depending on whether steel or wood is used. Cole said that a decision regarding the building material for the docking area has not been made. He added, however, that several townspeople have indicated that they prefer the natural look of wood. “We are willing to listen to the town on that,” Cole said. “We want to make it fit into the character of the town.” Plans call for the old ferry to be removed after the Woodland Ferry Festival in September and for the new ferry to be in place by the spring of 2006. The vessel will be constructed by Chesapeake Shipbuilding Corp., Salisbury, and the site work will be done by George and Lynch, Dover. SURVEY RESULTS:
Tuesday, Feb. 15: 3-car ferry - 67; 6-car ferry - 83; no preference - 17 = 167.
Saturday, Feb. 19: 3-car ferry - 71; 6-car ferry - 119; no preference - 33 = 223.
Totals: 3-car ferry - 138; 6-car ferry - 202; no preference - 50 = 390.

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