PORT ARANSAS, Texas - Spring Break has arrived and the town of Port Aransas, one of the areas along the gulf coast hit hardest by Hurricane Harvey, is preparing for visitors with a new addition to its ferry fleet.
The third 28-vehicle ferry was added to the operation Friday after several were damaged during the August storm.
"The ferry system here transports about 3.6 million vehicles a year which translates to about 6.3 million people," Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan said. "28 vehicles fit inside the 'Amadeo Saenz Jr.' ferry."
The Texas Department of Transportation said each of the ferries are named in honor of former executive directors. Sanez is a 33-year Texas Department of Transportation veteran.
Sanez Jr. started his career back in 1978 and served as the executive director from 2007 to 2011.
The ferry is equipped with the latest in marine technology.
"It has 350 horsepower engines, compared to the other two 28 vehicle ferries that have 200 horsepower," Bujan said. "It has enhanced radar, so it can be identified by other vessels in the channel."
Bujan said the new ferry will help keep up with increased traffic demands, especially for spring break. The boat will connect travelers between Aransas Pass on the mainland and Port Aransas on Mustang Island. The ferry will also help the construction workers who have been helping rebuild the coastal towns get to their destinations.
While some businesses remain closed following the hurricane, Bujan said between 26 and 30 restaurants have been opened and at least six hotels have reopened.
The ferry, he said, is just the first of many steps in the right direction.
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