The New York Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) has awarded a contract to Elliott Bay Design (EBDG) for the development of a new class of ferries, which will be deployed between the boroughs of Staten Island and Manhattan.
Under the contract, EBDG will provide a complete design package, including contract drawings, specifications and other documents for vessels.
In addition, the company will retrofit a new propulsion system to the existing Molinari-class ferries, in order to establish consistency between the new and existing fleet.
EBDG project manager Matt Williamson said: "We're excited to get the project underway to build on the work we have done to date.
"We're looking forward to developing a vessel design that meets the need of the Staten Island Ferry on all fronts, economical to construct, efficient to operate and providing safe and reliable service to the people of New York."
The new vessels, which are estimated to cost around $309m to build, will replace the existing Barberi- and Kennedy-class ferries.
New York Senator Charles Schumer has asked the federal government to grant $267m to the NYC DOT for funding of passenger ferries and upgrades to the existing ferry terminals.
The department would apply for the grant from the Federal Transit Administration sandy resilience programme to finance the ferries.
EBDG said it served as a sub-contractor in 2009 as part of the KPFF Consulting Engineers project team, appointed by the NYC DOT to conduct a preliminary design investigation to assess the future needs of the Staten Island Ferry fleet.
The study suggested that reconstructing the existing fleet was not an economically viable option and that the construction of new double-ended ferry boats would be the best option.
EBDG provides a wide range of services, including transportation studies, concept designs, capital budgets, security improvements and mid-life refurbishments to owners, operators and shipyards across the US. It operates offices in Seattle, New Orleans and Ketchikan, Alaska.
Image: A Kennedy-class ferry on its way to Staten Island, New York. Photo: courtesy of Norbert Nagel / Wikimedia Commons.