Group pushes for regional ferry system between Beaufort, Savannah

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Group pushes for regional ferry system between Beaufort, Savannah

Route would include stops on Hilton Head, Daufuskie islands
By CASEY CONLEY
cconley@islandpacket.com
Published Sunday, August 5, 2012   |  439 Words  |  

A group calling itself the Sea Island Ferry Task Force hopes to get people thinking about a regional ferry system between Beaufort and Savannah.

The group, which formed last year but recently changed its leadership, will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Hilton Head Island library to gauge interest and collect feedback from potential ferry passengers.

Although proposals for a regional ferry system have come and gone through the years, task force members believe this effort can be successful.

"This is a great idea, and it has always been a great idea," said Channing Heiss, the task force's vice chairman. "Hopefully, we can learn from what's been done in the past and build on that, but we have to have a sense of optimism that we can do it."

The task force is an offshoot of the Binyah Foundation, which formed years ago to promote tourism, development and culture on Daufuskie Island, said task force chairwoman Robin Chamberlain.

For now, the group has no set plans for the ferry route, but documents from a 2001 feasibility study show a route between Beaufort and Savannah with stops on Hilton Head and Daufuskie. Chamberlain suggested that plan as a starting point.

The task force believes a wider ferry system would be used by commuters, tourists and locals. Chamberlain and Heiss also envision improvements to the region's bus and road network.

"We have a lot of good existing pieces already, and it's just a matter of coordinating them in a creative and broader way," Heiss said.

Both Heiss and Chamberlain, who live on Hilton Head, hope to work with another ferry-improvement endeavor recently started by Daufuskie residents.

Beaufort County Council's Finance Committee is expected to weigh in today on a proposed contract for the Daufuskie Island Ferry Service, which links the island with Hilton Head and has been operating without a contract for more than a month. Final approval likely would occur later this month.

Heiss and Chamberlain hope Tuesday's task force meeting is the first of several aimed at raising awareness and building support for the regional ferry system. Longer term, the group hopes to assist governments with the development of the plan.

Related content:

Proposal would raise property taxes, improve ferry service, June 19, 2012

Departure time for Daufuskie Island ferry service debated, May 14, 2012