As towns continue to evaluate their mass transit options amid COVID-19, one suburban city is taking steps toward adding New York City-bound water transportation along the banks of the Raritan River.
The City of South Amboy recently announced that they have been awarded $5.3 million from the Federal Transit Administration’s 2020 Passenger Ferry Grant Program. The funds will be put towards revitalizing a formerly industrial parcel with a new ferry facility that overlooks both Perth Amboy and Staten Island’s Tottenville neighborhood.
The plan for the property is fitting considering its former life, as the land once featured a stagecoach stop during the 17th century and more recently hosted The Camden & Amboy Railroad and the Raritan River Port. For the modern edition, French and Parello Associates and USA Architects have teamed up to design a 20,000-square-foot ferry terminal set to feature a second-floor restaurant or banquet facility.
In addition to over 700 parking spaces, the project will include a bay walk that connects to Manhattan Beach Club. The neighboring 55-acre property has a 1,875-unit luxury apartment complex currently under construction that will bridge the gap between the proposed ferry terminal and the city’s train station. The 291-unit first phase is scheduled to wrap construction in August 2022.
Despite the plans for a modern transformation at the riverfront parcels, South Amboy Mayor Fred Henry is making sure the area’s history is not forgotten. Working closely with the state’s Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Protection, and Historic Preservation Office, the new ferry facility will feature artifacts of the Amboy & Camden Railroad that were recovered from the site during a cleanup.
“While we always have to look to accommodate our needs for the future, we don’t want to neglect the role the City has played as a transportation hub in the past,” Henry says.
Efforts to bring ferry service to the Middlesex county city, home to about 9,000 residents, have been ongoing for almost two decades. An operator has yet to be selected to run the service but after years of planning, Mayor Henry believes the finish line is finally in sight.
“This ambitious project has not been without complications,” Henry says. “However, we are finally able to move forward with construction of this major transportation improvement that will benefit both our residents and the residents of Middlesex County.”
During the next few months, the Mayor’s staff will be finalizing a few remaining governmental approvals related to the project. The city expects to start advertising bids for the terminal’s construction before the end of 2020.