For about a decade, The Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company has been trying to move its location from downtown Bridgeport to the eastern side of the harbor. Now, the company says it’s almost ready to apply for permits.
It’s all part of a plan to expand ferry service between Connecticut and Long Island.
“We hope to build a fourth vessel in the next few years, and we would need a berth for four vessels, so the plan is to build a double berth system on the new property,” General Manager Fred Hall said.
Hall said he’s working with state environmental officials to make sure the plans meet their requirements. It seems to be the last hurdle after years of pushback from opponents who didn’t want the service to leave downtown.
“Bridgeport has recognized that access to and from the highway is somewhat problematic. Nobody really wants to unload a ferry in the middle of downtown, which is effectively what we do. So by moving over to the other side of the harbor we should be freeing up some of the traffic problems in downtown Bridgeport.”
Hall said people in Port Jefferson support the expansion, especially if he demolishes one of the ferry buildings on the waterfront to open up the view and make room for the new boat.
Michael Philbrick, who owns The Port Jefferson Brewing Company, on Long Island, said, “We have a whole lot of people that may not necessarily be coming to Port Jefferson, but they’ll stop by on the way in or out of the ferry to try beer, pick up beer, so if they had the expansion, business-wise it would be a very good thing for me.”
Philbrick may have to wait a little while for that foot traffic. The ferry company said the new service won’t start for another two to five years.
Disclosure: The Bridgeport Port Jefferson Steamboat Company is a supporter of WSHU.