Legislation that would change how Valley View Ferry captains are licensed has moved forward another step, according to U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Sixth District.
The bill, named the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, includes a specific provision to remove the requirement that Valley View Ferry captains be licensed through the Coast Guard, and instead allow the state to implement its own licensing requirements.
The bill has moved out of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in Washington, D.C., and the next step is for the full House to vote on it.
“We are hopeful it will be brought to the floor soon,” said Catherine Gatewood, Barr’s communication director.
In October, Barr testified in front of the committee about the importance of the ferry as a link between Jessamine, Fayette and Madison counties.
The ferry had to cut back its weekday hours and cease weekend operations last summer after one of its captains resigned. The Valley View Authority has had difficulty finding a replacement captain who possesses a merchant mariner license, which is the highest level of operator license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Barr has proposed in the bill to turn over the licensing authority to the state. The state would then set up ferry captain training regulations and requirements that may not be as stringent as those for pilots of larger vessels along major rivers and other bodies of water.
The Valley View Ferry does not have steering capabilities and makes its 500-foot journey tethered to steel cables.
“The bottom line is that the Valley View Ferry supports jobs and commerce in central Kentucky,” Barr said at the committee hearing. “Every day the Valley View Ferry is not in operation, it causes economic disruption for nearby businesses and tremendous hardship for the merchants and workers who need to use the ferry to commute efficiently to and from work.”