Washington, D.C. – RealEstateRama – Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata is hailing notice of a major $21.25 million federal grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to purchase two new Ferry Boat Vessels serving Tutuila to Manu’a, under the authorization of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which Amata supported in Congress.
“Congratulations to the American Samoa Department of Public Works, who applied effectively for this large grant,” said Congresswoman Amata. “Thank you especially to Director Faleosina Voigt and the team, as they did a great job making the case to the FTA for this important project that can benefit our people for years to come. Safe, reliable transportation will always be a necessary investment in an island territory, where we respect the power of the ocean. Thank you to the FTA and DOT for recognizing this safety and reliability priority for American Samoa and supporting this project. Congratulations to Governor Lemanu Peleti S. Mauga and Lt. Gov. Talauega Eleasalo Va’alele Ale as they lead this effort.”
Congresswoman Amata supported the BIL from the start. Officially titled in Congress the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the BIL authorized $108 billion for public transportation – the largest federal investment in public transportation in the nation’s history – focused on safety, modernization, innovation, and repairs.
The American Samoa Department of Public Works proposed the replacement and expansion of the island to island passenger ferry boat service. The purchase would be two ferry boat vessels replacing the out-of-service MV Sili, out of commission since 2018, and increasing the capacity and reliability of the program. Currently, only the MV Manuatele makes the 50-mile transport route and must carry both passengers and cargo.
Under the proposal, the two new vessels would be the same type with specifications including 100-130 feet in length, a capacity of 75-95 passengers, cruising speed of 12 knots with a maximum of 15-20 knots. These lower-emission vessels would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The proposal notes the ferry vessels can be part of strengthening education, business, job, and tourism opportunities that require reliability and frequency of transportation, reducing disadvantages to Manu’a from unpredictable access to medical, economic, educational, and other key facilities, improving the connection to communities and more equitable access to Manu’a residents.
This federal grant, under the Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program, announced by the FTA in conjunction with other grants nationwide, requires a territory match of $3.75 million. It is one of 13 grants totaling $220 million to eight states and American Samoa. Notably, American Samoa’s project was selected over numerous eligible grant proposals throughout the country and is one of four projects highlighted in the nationwide announcement.
“For many communities around the U.S., ferries are an important way to access jobs, medical care, and vital goods and services—like in communities I visited this summer in Alaska, Wisconsin, and Washington state,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With these grants, from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we will be able to connect more people to the opportunities and resources they need to thrive even when their main route is a waterway rather a road.”
“Today’s announcement represents our continued record support under the Biden-Harris Administration for passenger ferry service,” said FTA Administrator Nuria Fernandez. “The grants help transit agencies make investments to increase reliability, improve connections to other modes of transportation, and bring older ferry systems into a state of good repair.”