MADISON, Ind. (AP) — Southern Indiana residents who faced long commutes to work because of the emergency closure of an Ohio River bridge say a ferry service that whisks them across the river is saving them time and money.
The free ferry trips by Rockin' Thunder Jet Boat Rides started last Monday near the bridge linking Madison, Ind., and Milton, Ky., that was closed temporarily March 11 following an accident that injured a man working on a bridge replacement project.
Madison resident Jan Powell said that since the bridge's closure, her short commute to work in Milton had turned into a detour that added three hours of travel time each day.
"It was costing me $75 a week (in gas)," she told the Madison Courier (http://bit.ly/1j0WLkY ).
But now she's finding relief from the 90-minute drives each way she had been making to King's Daughters' Health medical building in Milton, where she's a nurse practitioner.
The boat rides provided by the city of Madison and Rockin' Thunder are also good news for Frank McCane, who works in Bedford, Ky., as a network administrator for Trimble County Schools.
McCane had been getting a boat ride across the river each morning from a Madison dentist, and before that he had arranged to trade cars during the day with a friend who lives on the opposite side of the river but works in Madison.
The ferry service takes just a few minutes each way after passengers sign the manifest, put on a life vest and board the Rockin' Thunder jet boat.
Boat captain Janet Harding said most people boarding the boat "are so grateful" for the time-saving service.
The rides are given on a first-come, first-served basis, with no reservations allowed.
State highway officials from Indiana and Kentucky, who together are overseeing the bridge project, are in discussions with the city concerning the costs, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said.
Not all of the people using the free service were using it to get to and from work.
Leisa Streight of North Vernon boarded the ferry boat this week to make her monthly trip to Milton businesses so that she can buy cigarettes in Kentucky.
Information from: The Madison Courier, http://www.madisoncourier.com