Last phase of Ferry Drive project begins
With the final phase of the Ferry Drive improvement project underway, Bridge City officials hope to have the road open again by the spring.
“The worst case scenario would be early summer,” said City Manager Jerry Jones. “Hopefully we’ll have good weather.”
Simco recently completed its water and sewer line relocation, making way for Apac to begin resurfacing work.
The old street concrete is being pulled up to be replaced with hot mix asphalt.
Before work began last year, the proposal had been talked around city hall for many years, said Jones. But for various reasons, funding never materialized. One year, the bid came in too high, he said.
The work is partially funded through a grant from the Office of Rural Community Affairs. The cost is $2,274,039 with the city paying $184,811.
Ferry is a highly-traveled road which connects West Roundbunch Road to Texas Avenue. People traveling from areas such as Vidor and Orangefield often used the street as a shortcut when headed to Port Arthur.
The road is being widened with a continuous turn lane added and the ditches filled in. Also, right turn lanes are being added at the Ferry/FM 1442 and Ferry/Texas 87 intersections.
“The continuous turn lane is very important because its going to minimize the disruption of traffic flow,” Jones said. “When you get two cars going down the road and one decides to turn – everything is backed up.”
During the upgrade process, residents of the Bridgeview and Hunter’s Ridge subdivisions have been able to access their homes with any of the four streets that cross Ferry Drive, then using North John Street to enter either Texas Avenue or Roundbunch.
And that’s caused some heavy use of North John, however, Jones said, the city has been funded to upgrade North John after Ferry Drive is improved.
“[North John] has really taken a beating with all the new traffic,” he said. “And it’s a very narrow road, too.
“We’re really looking forward to getting [Ferry reopened] … It’s going to be well worth it. A lot of people have worked on that project over the years.”
Ferry Drive was so named because residents traveled the road to get to the Dryden Ferry, which took them to Port Arthur from Bailey’s Landing at the end of Lake Street.
Ferry use decreased after 1939 when the Rainbow Bridge opened.
According to a town history available at the Bridge City Chamber of Commerce, the Dryden Ferry was operated by the Crittenden Towing Co. and hauled about 18,000 cars across the river each month.
It began operating in 1926, making free trips during the day and charging 50 cents per car in the evenings.
The ferry landing was accessible by a wooden trestle originally funded for $60,000 with the help of Gov. “Ma” Ferguson. Orange County put up $35,000 for improvements, according to chamber records.
Randolph and Lloyd Crittenden owned the tug that pushed the ferry. Those who worked the barge were Rob Bailey, Bill Billeaud, Ferris Gillette, Fred Bailey and Henry Lloyd.