Cape May – Lewes Ferry celebrates engine upgrade, funding for fleet replacement plan
LEWES, Del. – An historic way to get in and out of Delmarva is celebrating an upgrade and a path forward for the future.
The Cape May – Lewes Ferry system now has three of its four ferries running on all-new engines and is celebrating a $600,000 infusion as part of the federal infrastructure package aimed towards pivoting the fleet to hybrid and all-electric vehicles.
Senator Tom Carper and Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester visited Lewes Friday, highlighting the successful upgrades of the Lewes ferries as part of a $3 million program to make them more fuel-efficient.
“I don’t consider these vessels old they are around my age so I don’t consider them old but everyone once in a while needs a bit of maintenance which is what we see here,” Rep. Blunt Rochester said.
She says the previous engines were designed in the 1920s, and while reliable, were releasing large amounts of fossil fuel into the atmosphere. The new engines with modern fuel injection and turbo-charging technology cut down on routine maintenance while slashing emissions by 30 percent.
“Modernizing it and making it more efficient causes a win-win ripple effect for everyone from jobs to the economy to preserving the nature of southern Delaware,” Rep. Blunt Rochester said.
Cape May’s Ferry Director Heath Gehrke tells us that while the upgrades to the current fleet are necessary, even more, exciting is the 600,000 dollars Senator Carper was able to secure that allows them to create a plan to replace the current fleet with an all-electric one.
“It’s the biggest project at the cape may Lewes ferry since the original construction of the ferries, Gehrke said adding “it will have battery-powered engines or battery along with diesel engine shut the hope down the road is for full-electric power.”
He tells us the most optimistic timeline could see the plan finalized within the next 18-24 months with construction on the new fleet set to begin in late 2024.