DOTD receives bid for new Cameron ferry boats

Published 3:53 pm Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has accepted a bid from Thoma-Sea Marine Constructors of Houma for the construction of two new ferry boats for the Cameron crossing in Cameron Parish.

The bid for the project came in at $49,706,865.

The new boats will be 190 feet-by-50 feet-by-13 feet and will replace the M/V Cameron II, which was built in 1964.

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The boats will be end-loading vessels in order to load and unload large commercial vehicles. Two boats will be built so that ferry service will continue uninterrupted when one vessel undergoes required dry docking as per U.S. Coast Guard regulations.

“The construction of two new Cameron ferries is exciting news not only for Southwest Louisiana, but also for the state and nation,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “Cameron Parish is essential to our country’s oil and gas industries, and it’s a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts from all over. The new ferry boats will enhance the parish’s infrastructure and increase the consistency and quality of life for industry, residents, and visitors.”

DOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson said the new ferries are a welcome addition to the state’s infrastructure system.

“Allowing uninterrupted service to all vehicles — including commercial vehicles — is a major advantage to the area’s economic development,” he said. “With regards to asset management, this will reduce maintenance expenditures and performance disruption.”

Wilson said the new ferries will also provide continuity for hurricane evacuation routes in Southwest Louisiana.

“This one project has quality of life, economic competitiveness, tourism, and public safety implications that are beyond measure,” state Sen. Mark Abraham and state Rep. Ryan Bourriaque said in a joint statement.

Wilson said when the M/V Cameron II is in drydock, a temporary side-loading ferry is put into service — which allows passenger vehicles to cross, but trucks longer than about 50 feet had to detour about 100 miles around the Calcasieu Ship Channel.

The two new boats will allow ferry service of commercial vehicles to continue uninterrupted, he said.

The two new vessels will use battery-powered electric thrusters. The batteries will be charged by diesel generators on board, but can be upgraded to fully electric in the future. Construction of the two new ferries is expected to begin early next year with an estimated completion in mid-2025.