Gov. Scott Walker has declared Sept. 9-15 "Wisconsin Ports Week." Coinciding with that proclamation, Washington Island Ferry Line Inc. is hosting the annual conference of the Wisconsin Commercial Ports Association at the Historic Island Dairy Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
State government officials, commercial port representatives, marine suppliers and contractors will meet to exchange ideas and information on topics such as water quality, water levels, port infrastructure, port cargo volumes, available funding for port projects and the continuing importance of maritime commerce.
The ferry line provides year-round transportation between Detroit Harbor on the Island and Northport Pier on the Door Peninsula. The conference host operates in relatively small port settings, but with critical daily transportation of passengers, vehicles and cargo.
The Northport Harbor protective breakwater was completed in October 1994 with help of a Wisconsin Department of Transportation Harbor Assistance Program Grant administered through the County of Door. The Northport harbor protection greatly improved landing safety, along with greater reliability of ferry service since the time of its construction.
Also coinciding with Wisconsin Ports Week is the beginning of another key project, the town of Washington Detroit Harbor channel dredging, enabled by $5.2 million in special funding approved in June by the state Legislature and by Gov. Walker.
Roen Salvage Co. of Sturgeon Bay has been awarded the contract and is expected to mobilize their equipment to Washington Island by mid-September. Dredging of the channel will commence when preparations for digging and the disposal of spoils have been readied.
This project is expected to continue through the remainder of 2013 until freeze-up, with continuation until completion in 2014. This will be the largest dredging project in Detroit Harbor since 1937, the year when the channel was originally dug.
This dredging is designed to counter low Lake Michigan water levels such as those experienced in recent years. Ferry line officials say the work will ensure critical water transportation needs for the Island community, and for all who depend upon regular transport of people, vehicles and freight via commercial water route.