Ask 2: Why is there only one ferry boat working on the Lynchburg Ferry?

Lynchburg Ferry, as seen in an image from the HCTRA website, collected on Sept. 18, 2021. (HCTRA, HCTRA)

HOUSTON – Question: Why is there only one ferry boat working on the Lynchburg Ferry?

Answer: The Lynchburg Ferry is finally back open, but east side drivers are still frustrated and wondering, “what’s causing delays now?”

Here’s what we know:

  • The latest update from the ferry says they’re temporarily out of service due to CO2 line damage that happened on October 7 during that morning’s commute. They are asking drivers to please check back for updates here. They closed the ferry down for a year to mostly improve the ferry platform -- and they did some work on the actual ferry boats, including fixing their engines.
    • “During the 14-month closure from February 2020 through April 2021, crews reconstructed the north and south approaches, as well as the transfer ramps that allow for loading and unloading of the boats. The work also included rehabbing berthing facilities and new ramp hoist systems, which raise and lower the ramps. The newly elevated approaches and ramps will reduce service outages related to the impact of local flooding, therefore providing better service and reliability to drivers. Both ferryboats also received much needed refurbishing, including engine work, new decks and repainting,” according to the Harris County Toll Road Authority.
  • In addition, recently, “there was an issue was discovered during inspection on the second ferryboat, the Ross S. Sterling. This allowed the opportunity to go in ahead of schedule for its required U.S. Coast Guard 5 - year inspection and maintenance. Both ferryboats require a 5-year Certificate of Inspection (COI), dry-dock and internal structure exam, in addition to annual interval inspections. The ferries are on different inspection schedules to minimize related service outages. The ferries, like all commercial passenger and cargo vessels, are highly regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and are subject to rigorous safety requirements and enforcement. The ferryboats are scheduled for this mandatory inspection at different times so there is no overlap. HCTRA is currently working on an ongoing condition assessment for the Lynchburg Ferry (structure and vessels), to determine future needs to extend the life of this infrastructure,” HCTRA said.

There’s no doubt folks are not happy about the on-again-off-again service of the Lynchburg Ferry boats. On their Facebook page, dozens of unhappy comments. One driver saying they have to find another way to get to work, making their trip longer. And they’re not wrong. KPRC 2 crews took the Fred Hartman Bridge instead of the ferry to get from SH-225 to IH-10, and that was a 25 minute detour.

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