Possibility of ferry from Vancouver to Portland is gaining traction

FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2012 file photo, the downtown skyline is shown on the west bank of the Willamette River in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Don Ryan, File)

PORTLAND, Ore. -- While congestion continues to worsen around the Portland metro - especially for commuters from Washington - the idea of a commuter ferry is gaining traction.

The Frog Ferry, as organizers are calling it, would shuttle commuters from Terminal 1 in Vancouver to Salmon Springs Fountain in Southwest Portland. The say a one-way trip would take 38 minutes.

The group Friends of Frog Ferry need $650,000 for a feasibility study. Mayor Ted Wheeler is throwing his full support behind the ferry project.

"Ferry service can provide new and exciting ways to commute that alleviate the burden on our roads, mitigate traffic congestion," said Michael Cox, the mayor's chief of staff.

Cox said a ferry would also help Portland reach its climate goals.

Susan Bladholm, president and founder of Friends of Frog Ferry, says the boat would carry about 150 passengers. They say it wouldn't require bridge lifts in Portland.

"We have found that every single river city in the nation has a service like this, except for us," Bladholm said.

Congestion on the bridges between Portland and Vancouver has gotten worse over the years. Nearly 300,000 drivers cross the Columbia River daily, according to data kept by the Oregon Department of Transportation. That is an increase of about 30,000 drivers per day compared to 2011.

Friends of Frog Ferry say a ferry won't solve capacity issues on the bridges, but can help with congestion. Organizers have appealed to PBOT and the City of Vancouver to support studying the ferry project. Bladholm says it could be running within four years.

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