'Virginia C' is retired

By Daniel Richardson

The last day of 2007 was also the last day of operation for the Virginia C, the old three-car Woodland Ferry. At 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 31, the ferry finished its last day of operation and DelDOT began work on a dock for the new six-car ferry. On Friday, Dec. 28, the Woodland Ferry Association, local legislators and other members of the community met with DelDOT at the Ferry as they made the announcement that ferry operations would cease as of Monday, Dec. 31, so the dock construction project could begin. The new ferry, which will cost the state $931,000, is being built by Chesapeake Ship Builders of Salisbury. According to DelDot spokesperson and project manager George Unkle, the new ferry is about 50 percent complete and is expected to be in the water by November of 2008. The old ferry was taken out of the water because it is in poor condition and is unreliable, according to DelDOT. The ferry was routinely out of commission due to repair and maintenance.

"Our intention and desire is to have the new vessel look as much as possible like the old one," said Unkle. The Woodland Ferry association supports the upgrade to the ferry, according to member Christine Darby. "We were divided about whether or not (the ferry) should be three cars or six, but we are happy about the new ferry," said Darby. Ferry operations began in Woodland in the mid 1700s. DelDOT has been responsible for the ferry's operation since 1935. The Virginia C was put in the water to replace an older, wooden ferry in 1961. Jack and Carolyn Knowles, who live near the ferry, house a small museum honoring the ferry and its history. The construction of the new dock will cost Delaware $1.8 million with an additional $500,000 for permits and other miscellaneous items. The total cost to the state is $3.2 million.

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