Officials celebrate passage of ferry bill

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger met with Bay Area leaders in Alameda today to celebrate the passage of a bill aimed at upgrading ferry service in the region as well as building an emergency response water transportation system to deal with disasters such as earthquakes.

Joined by state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Alameda, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, at a morning news conference near the Alameda ferry terminal, Schwarzenegger said, “The Bay Area will be better prepared and much safer” due to Senate Bill 976.

Authored by state Sen. Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, and signed by Schwarzenegger on Friday, the bill creates a new transportation authority that will consolidate all state-funded ferry service in the Bay Area and build an emergency response and disaster recovery water transportation system for the region.

The bill includes $250 million in bonds to pay the capital costs for ferry boats, ferry terminals, hospital boats and supply ships, according to Jim Wunderman of the Bay Area Council, a business group which worked with the state legislature on the bill.

Perata said if a disaster damages the Bay Area's bridges and freeways, a water transportation system would be the quickest way to move people and goods.

— Bay City News

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