Water taxi in the Twin Ports?

Katie Wilk­er­son — The Stinger

Whether you love to bike the beau­ti­ful out­doors of the Twin Ports areas or just want a quick route to Park Point in the sum­mers a newly pro­posed Water Taxi pro­gram could help you get there.

Eight Uni­ver­sity of Wis­con­sin Supe­rior stu­dents have been research­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of imple­ment­ing a Water Taxi sys­tem that con­nects bike trails in Supe­rior and Duluth as part of their Urban Plan­ning and Trans­porta­tion Sys­tems course. They are doing a fea­si­bil­ity study to look at if it would be pos­si­ble, real­is­tic, and a good idea for this area.

Cur­rently, the only route that con­nects Duluth and Supe­rior is the Bong Bridge and Oliver Bridge which can be dan­ger­ous and unde­sir­able for cyclists,” Explained Ryan Hill, one of the stu­dents research­ing the pro­posed idea. “They are also not well linked to the more scenic bike paths.”

The stu­dents have looked into four dif­fer­ent sites for pos­si­ble dock­ing loca­tions which include: Bark­ers Island, Wis­con­sin Point, Canal Park and Park Point. At this point there are no con­crete plans as the stu­dents con­tinue their research and reach out to many pub­lic offi­cials, mem­bers of the bik­ing com­mu­nity, and any­one who may have inter­est in their project.

On March 18, the stu­dents flew out two mem­bers of Local Motion to give a pre­sen­ta­tion here at UWS. Local Motion is a suc­cess­ful water ferry com­pany in Ver­mont that trans­ports cyclists across Lake Cham­plain. Chapin Spencer, the exec­u­tive direc­tor, and Brian Costello, the ferry Cap­tain, gave much infor­ma­tion on their busi­ness, how it works, and why it was a good idea for them.

They started off small, but now they are a fully oper­at­ing com­pany with mod­i­fied pon­toon boats with bike racks that move cyclists along dif­fer­ent routes. It would be great to see this hap­pen around here.” Said Hill.

Local Motion also dis­cussed how they not only help to pro­vide the means of trans­porta­tion for bik­ers and such but also pro­mote a healthy lifestyle and encour­age chil­dren to get out and exer­cise within the community.

Spencer and Costello agreed that a water taxi oper­a­tion appeared to be fea­si­ble in Duluth and Supe­rior, but the main issue that stands in the way is fund­ing, which also hap­pens to be their biggest issue as well.

The stu­dents will be pre­sent­ing their research find­ings from this fea­si­bil­ity study on Mon­day, April 29 at 4:30 in the YU Great Room. Any­one inter­ested in learn­ing more about this pos­si­bil­ity is wel­come to watch the presentation.

Katie Wilk­er­son — The Stinger
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