Cave-in-Rock Ferry getting new barge - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Cave-in-Rock Ferry getting new barge

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POSSUM TROT, KY -- Those who use the Cave-in-Rock Ferry will soon notice a fresh new look. The ferry will be upgrading to a brand new barge and Thursday it was finally set in the water.

It's been two years in the making, but the new barge that will carry cars and trucks across the Ohio River for years to come is just waiting on a few more weeks of testing and then final approval by the United States Coast Guard.

"They tell you what type of navigational lights has to be on it. They have to check the thing all the way from the front to the back," said owner Lonnie Lewis. "Everything about it has to be OK'd by the Coast Guard."

Thursday, at James Built, just south of Paducah along the Tennessee River, the barge was lowered into the water. After testing, it will be moved to its new home in Cave-in-Rock. Once it's up and running, Lewis says riders will notice more than just the fresh new paint.

"It's four foot wider and ten foot longer than the biggest barge I have at this time," explained Lewis. "We're not going to increase the car numbers, we're just going to have more room between the cars so people can get out and enjoy the ride during the summer months."

A ride that takes an average of 500 cars a day from Cave-in-Rock, Illinois to Livingston County, Kentucky. The barges currently in operation are around fifty years old.

"It's just like an old car or old truck," said Lewis. "There comes a point in time when it's cheaper to buy a new one than to continue to patch the old one."

Lewis hopes he can get another 50 years of use from.

"I've been told numerous time that there as good of a barge as money can buy," explained Lewis.

The Cave-in-Rock Ferry barges are rated to hold three semis, but to keep everyone happy, they put one semi down the middle and finish loading with cars around the sides.

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