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Cross Sound Ferry vessel gets $2.4M ‘green’ engine upgrade

Cross Sound Ferry officials said they have completed a $2.4 million project partly funded by a federal grant to refit one of the company’s high-speed passenger ferries with lower-emission diesel engines.

The Jessica W is now one of four vessels that Cross Sound Ferry has refitted as part of a “green” initiative the ferry company started in 2010 to reduce emissions and pollutants in its ferry fleet.

Ferry officials said receiving $800,000 in funding from the Environmental Protection Agency was a major step in their efforts to go green.

“We value the opportunity to work with the EPA on this project of repowering the Jessica W high-speed passenger ferry,” said John P. Wronowski, owner and president of Cross Sound Ferry Services Inc. “This project advances the environmental improvement goals for our fleet of vessels, an effort which began almost 10 years ago by deploying new and efficient, low-emission engines to improve air quality locally and throughout the region.”

The $800,000 EPA grant was issued under the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and went toward the purchase and installation of two state-of-the-art EPA Tier-3 certified marine engines that replaced the vessel’s outdated diesel engines. The ferry service provided $1.6 million to purchase two other engines for the Jessica W and pay for labor costs.

The Cross Sound Ferry, which transports nearly 500,000 vehicles and 1.5 million passengers each year, began considering converting to lower-emission engines in 2008, according to Stan Mickus, the ferry’s public affairs spokesman.

“It’s our responsibility to do our part to be environmentally conscious, and through this program, we have been able to lower the carbon footprint of our service,” Mickus said.

According to ferry officials, the Jessica W, about 160 feet long, is one of the largest passenger-only, high-speed ferries on the East Coast. The vessel travels at speeds up to 40 mph and provides year-round service to Orient Point and seasonal service to Block Island in Rhode Island.

Ferry officials plan to seek more funding through the EPA program to help finance lower-emission engines for two other vessels.

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