October 21, 2014

Elyria
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47°F
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Future home of the Jet Express in Lorain

LORAIN — Ground breaking by the Lorain Port Authority for a $958,000 new ferry terminal building at Black River Landing is scheduled at 1 p.m. today.

The 5,000-square-foot building will provide more amenities for riders of the Jet Express, said Rick Novak authority executive director. The boat cruises around Lake Erie and ferries passengers to destinations such as Cleveland Browns games, the Horseshoe Casino in Cleveland and Put-in-Bay.

“It’ll be the perfect complement to the waterfront,” Novak said of the building, which will also house the authority offices. The building will be at 421 Black River Lane parallel to Broadway between West Fourth and West Fifth streets.

Some 2,000 passengers ride the Jet Express or take river tours on two authority shuttle boats annually, Novak said. Established in 1964 by the state, the authority is a governmental agency that helps finance public and private waterfront activity and infrastructure projects. It has an approximately $1 million annual budget and three fulltime employees and several part-time and seasonal workers.

About $483,000 for the project will be paid by the authority with $475,000 paid for by federal taxpayers through a grant from the Ferry Boat Discretionary Program. The grant, which pays for building ferry boats and ferry terminals, is being distributed by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The building, which will have restrooms and distribute brochures promoting area tourism,  is expected to be constructed by August. The work is being performed by Lakeland Management Systems Inc., a Painesville-based construction and engineering company.

The building is being constructed as the authority makes a $115,000 improvement to its dock adding about 75 feet to the dock. Novak and Ralph Bruening, authority events coordinator and facilities manager, said the building is part of a plan to attract more people downtown and to the waterfront.

By having the building to go to rather than waiting for boats at the dock, Bruening said it will introduce outsiders to Lorain.

“It’s going to be a great marketing opportunity,” Bruening said. “It’s going to set us apart from everybody else.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.