TAMPA, Fla. — Plans to create a ferry service from MacDill Air Force Base into south Hillsborough County appear to be dead in the water.

  • Project had been in works for years
  • Commissioner Kemp says her constituents not happy with vote
  • Commissioner Miller cited public dollars for no vote
  • More Hillsborough County headlines

"I've already gotten calls from South Tampa from people very upset because they're used to the MacDill traffic blocking the roads all the time," said Pat Kemp, commissioner of District 6. 

Commissioner Kemp says news of Thursday night's controversial vote to end the MacDill Tampa Bay Passenger Ferry Project isn't sitting well with constituents.  She voted in favor of the project she says had wide support and would have lessened traffic. 

"We could take 2,000 cars off the road a day," Kemp said. "We don't really need infrastructure. We could get it up and running fairly quickly compared to any other option."

The project, which has been in the works for five years, would have had at least three vessels similar to the Cross Bay Ferry.  Each ride would have taken about 13 minutes, according to estimates.

But commissioners shut it down in a 6-1 vote, citing concerns about costs and a lack of specifics. 

"It was supposed to be a public-private partnership and thus far it was all the public dollars that we were putting into it, and I just couldn't vote for it again," said District 3 Commissioner Les Miller.  

"I voted no. I voted no, I didn't think it was going to work. We didn't have the answers."

Kemp maintains those answers were forthcoming because a study was underway and a survey of MacDill employees was recently conducted. 

"I think it's really terrible to the public of Hillsborough County, to the people who this ferry would serve," she said.

The project could see new life through a transportation tax Hillsborough County residents approved on November 6.