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3/23/2020 - CHAMBER CALLS FOR FERRY SUPPORT FROM STATE AND FEDS
The North Country Chamber of Commerce is calling for urgent attention from the state and federal governments to the continuation of full Lake Champlain Ferry service during the current emergency.
"Because of shutdowns and travel limitations, traffic on the Lake Champlain Ferries is down significantly," noted Garry Douglas, Chamber President. "The drop in business has already led to suspension of the Essex-Charlotte ferry and a reduction in frequency at the Plattsburgh-Grand Isle crossing. The company is doing what it can to sustain operations but given how crucial the connection is, we need to be concerned."
Douglas notes that without the Grand Isle ferry, all travel between the Plattsburgh and Burlington areas would take an hour or more of added time. "This poses serious impacts on health care, given the high integration of health care systems, including most of our hospitals, in the Champlain Valley. In 2019, there were 1,700 transfers by ferry between northern New York hospitals and UVMMC in Burlington. It is also estimated by the University of Vermont Health Network that approximately 130 patients travel independently by ferry to medical appointments across the lake each day. They also estimate that some 160 providers, nurses and other hospital employees commute by ferry each day."
Douglas reports that the Chamber has notified the Governor's office and the New York State Transportation Department of the situation, requesting urgent attention. The area's Congresswoman and New York's U.S. Senators have also been notified in the context of upcoming federal assistance now being defined for essential services, and the North Country's State Legislators are joined in outreach.
"We need Grand Isle ferry service sustained and Essex ferry service restored, and look forward to a positive response," concludes Douglas.