VDOT activates new ferry advisory signs

Last Friday, Virginia Department of Transportation personnel unveiled computer operated signage to advise motorists of Merry Point Ferry and Sunnybank Ferry operations. When the sign is flashing, the ferry is operating, according to VDOT assistant area residency administrator Carter White (left). District 3 supervisor Jason Bellows (right) represented Lancaster County as the sign was activated on Ottoman Ferry Road for the Corrotoman River crossing to Merry Point. Photo by Audrey Thomasson

FREDERICKSBURG—The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently activated 11 ferry advisory signs for the Merry Point Ferry in Lancaster County and the Sunnybank Ferry in Northumberland County to rapidly communicate ferry operational status to drivers.

Earlier this month, crews posted six signs for the Merry Point Ferry and five signs for the Sunnybank Ferry. The signs were installed on routes leading to the ferry entrances, reported Fredericksburg District communications coordinator Darragh Copley Frye.

Ferry service is often suspended for extreme low or high tides, high winds or ice in the river. When ferries are in service, the lights on the advisory signs will flash.

Drivers passing the advisory signs when the lights are not flashing should continue driving instead of turning toward the ferry entrance.

Additionally, the signs will eliminate the need to change signs by hand. VDOT can remotely activate the flashing lights on the new advisory signs within minutes. Previously, an employee had to travel between 28 and 43 miles to physically change all advisory signs on routes leading to the Merry Point and Sunnybank ferries. The related annual mileage expense totaled $6,600.

The new signs, installed by the Elite Contracting Group, cost $225,000, covered 80% by federal funds and 20% by state funds. Annual maintenance costs are anticipated to be $5,000 a year to maintain the active ferry advisory signs for power, cell service and upkeep.

Three Merry Point Ferry advisory signs have been installed on Merry Point Road, two on Ottoman Ferry Road and one on Devils Bottom Road.

Two Sunnybank Ferry advisory signs have been installed on Hacks Neck Road, two on Sunnybank Road and one on Ferry Road.

The Merry Point Ferry crosses the Corrotoman River from Merry Point to Ottoman in Lancaster County. Regular operating hours are 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays and Mondays.

The Sunnybank Ferry crosses the Little Wicomico River from Sunnybank to Kayan in Northumberland County. Regular operating hours are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays and closed Sundays.

The annual average ridership for the Merry Point Ferry totals 16,500 passengers and 10,300 vehicles. The annual average ridership for the Sunnybank Ferry totals 6,900 passengers and 4,275 vehicles.