(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)
East Boston is one step closer to a new ferry service that will provide direct water connections to Charlestown and South Boston, one of a set of changes Mayor Thomas M. Menino has proposed to revive the neighborhood’s long-dormant waterfront.
Last week, the board of the Boston Redevelopment Authority voted to accept a $1.28 million federal grant intended for the purchase of two ferry boats. The authority also authorized the beginning of a search for a vendor to supply the boats. A spokeswoman for the BRA said Monday that the authority is drafting a request for proposals and seeking assistance from a marine safety and survey consultant.
The BRA expects to open the bidding process in the coming weeks and has begun outreach to ferry manufacturers and suppliers, said Aubre Carreon Aguilar, the spokeswoman, in an email. Aguilar said a second request for potential ferry operators would be released after the BRA buys the boats.
The BRA is also working on plans to rehabilitate the East Boston Marine Terminal in Maverick Square, Aguilar said, and has partnered with the Massachusetts Port Authority to ensure it is ready in time to launch the new ferry service by spring or summer of 2013.
The grant from the Federal Highway Administration was announced early last month, following Menino’s announcement in late 2011 that revitalizing the East Boston waterfront would be a major policy goal for his administration.
“The inner harbor ferry service will decrease congestion and improve air quality while investing in new affordable transportation infrastructure and adding value to Boston’s waterfront communities,” Menino said in a statement announcing the grant.
Each boat will meet the standards of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, according to an announcement from the BRA, and will have a capacity of 40 – 100 passengers.
The announcement stated the ferries would meet a growing demand for mass transit in the three waterfront neighborhoods, where half of all trips at peak travel hours are made by car and just over a quarter are currently made using public transit.