State May Drop its Lake Powell Ferry Service

State May Drop its Lake Powell Ferry Service

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The state is considering abandoning its ferry service across Lake Powell.

Whether the U.S. National Park Service or a concessionaire would purchase the ferries and take over the service has not been determined.

The lake is dropping to its lowest mark in 30 years, making the ferry piers unusable, and the Utah Department of Transportation does not want to absorb the cost of building new piers.

UDOT subsidizes the service for $200,000 a year. Motorists pay $16 per one-way trip.

Currently, two ferries -- the Charles Hall and the John Atlantic Burr -- make the 20-minute trip between Bullfrog and Halls Crossing marinas every two hours. During summer months, the trip is made once each hour.

With piers high and dry, the 21-car ferries use recreational-boat ramps to load cars, trucks and passengers. When recreational use increases this spring, those ramps may become overcrowded, UDOT spokesman Tom Hudachko said.

"People who recreate aren't going to be too happy about sharing their dock," he said.

A final decision on the ferries' fate has yet to be made, Hudachko said.

Discussions with the National Park Service, which manages the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, are under way to see if a solution can be hammered out.

A park service spokeswoman in Page, Ariz., was not available Monday for comment. A Halls Crossing-based official for the concessionaire that operates the ferries, Aramark Corp., declined comment.

The 150-foot-long ferries would be missed. Cars wanting to go from one side to the other would have to travel 120 miles out of their way.

The nearest bridge is on Utah 95, at Lake Powell's far northeastern end near Hite Marina. The only other bridge is at the Glen Canyon Dam near Page.

The ferries also have been used to enable children to attend school at Bullfrog. Before the ferries were built, students made the trip by houseboat.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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