The study will look at the ferry operation, which loses between $300,000 and $400,000 each year

VERN UYETAKE - Is the Canby Ferry in danger of closing? Clackamas County has announced it will conduct a feasibility study through the fall on whether it's financially practical to continue running the ferry.

Clackamas County will conduct a feasibility study on whether it's financially practical to continue to run the Canby Ferry.

Before people get upset or start to worry, this will be a study of various potential options to be seriously considered before anything is done.

It will take months to do the study and nothing will likely be decided before December, if it's decided at all. The study hadn't been started as of the first week of April.

The ferry is losing money, according to Steve Williams, the county's principal transportation planner. It is losing from $300,000 to $400,000 annually.

"The study will look at several options: continue to operate the ferry, the financial impact of discontinuing the ferry, building a bridge over the river -- with or without the ferry, and building a toll bridge -- with or without the ferry.

"We're just getting organized," said Williams. "We haven't started the analysis," he said.

At press time he had scheduled an appointment with Rick Robinson, Canby's city manager, to talk about the process.

Future activities include speaking to the Canby City Council and a potential public meeting. Williams said he anticipates the actual study will last through the spring and most of the summer into early fall. He hopes it will be completed by Thanksgiving so he can report the information to the County Commissioners in December.

"It's up to them to make the decision," he said.

Meanwhile, the ferry this year has only been down for electrical and other small repairs, said Rory Quin, a ferry operator.

Now that it's daylight savings time again, passage has picked up. Typically, there are problems over the winter, but this year the water level stayed below 70 feet, the water level necessary to shut the ferry down. There wasn't very much inclement weather this year compared to last.

"There's a core of regular users and traffic over the winter was about the same as last year," Quin said.

He suggested there's been more tourists this year.

"It's a significant timesaver," he said. "Most people use us to get around the traffic."

Quin estimated the traffic was about the same as last year even though the ferry was closed a significant chunk of 2017 due to repairs.

He thought recent fare increases hadn't made a dent in traffic, at least not as much as an earlier increase. Five years ago the fee doubled, he said. The most recent increase went from $4 to $5. There is also a ticket book at $60 for 20 trips, and a lot more regulars use the book.

The actual trip across takes about two and a half minutes, unless there's a lot of cars. Then a trip could take as long as 10 minutes if cars are backed up and there's a long line. But a lot of people regularly use the ferry, Quin said.

Regulars include people that work in Canby and others who like to relax from highway driving and enjoy the scenery, he added.

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