RFP: For a Vehicle Ferry System Assessment and Recommendations in the State of Illinois

Issued By: America's Central Port
Date: January 4, 2023


America’s Central Port District (“Port”), is a municipal corporation of the State of Illinois created in 1959 to promote economic development and transportation in Southwestern Illinois. The Port manages a 1,200-acre industrial park in the cities of Granite City, Madison, and Venice, Illinois, 10 minutes north of downtown St. Louis, Missouri.

The Port has received a grant award from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to conduct an assessment of the vehicle ferry system in the State of Illinois, and to make recommendations for improvement.

Scope of Services: 

The scope of this project includes a cursory inventory of the existing ferries in Illinois, conditions assessment, detailed review of a specific geographic area, and recommendations for goals, outcomes and improvements to the System. The assessment should include ratings, photographs, benchmarks, and cost estimates.

The final deliverables of the assessment will include a written report of the recommendations, goals, and outcomes of the Study

Detailed Scope: 

  • Overview
    • Development of a regional, and if funds permit, a Statewide Assessment and Plan for the vehicle ferries utilizing the inland waterways in Illinois
    • Transportation along the Great River Road corridor connecting the SW Illinois region.
    • Bridges connecting the SW Illinois corridor to the St. Louis and St. Charles Missouri.  Include Clarksville and Route 79 in Missouri, bikers’ loop from Louisiana Bridge, and other bridges with travel times if ferries were not in existence
    • Brief history of all the ferries (former and current) in the study area, including those on the Mississippi River.
    • More detailed history (including existing services) of the ferry systems serving the Jersey, Calhoun, St. Charles County areas.
    • Review of existing studies in MO and IL associated with transportation planning and passenger transportation.
    • Coordination and inclusion with Great Rivers and Routes Corridor Study. Include the tourism dollar amounts in the SW Region.
    • Review current state legislation for private, municipal, and state (IDOT) ability to charge ferry tolls and answer the question whether IDOT has the statutory authority to levy or fix tolls on any ferries it owns or operates.
  • Definition of Study Area
    • Define Geography/Limits of the Study
    • Define Geography of the service area of the ferry operations
    • Detail the road network, East – West Interstate and North South connectors, with traffic estimates on these routes
  • Detailed review of the Golden Eagle, Brussels and Grafton Ferries, and other ferry operations in the state (as funding is available). Cursory review of the Chain of Rocks Bridge and potential for ferry operation as a backup. State vs. Private company operations. Measure costs of each, returns to the State/local economy based on tourism dollars, and efficiencies of operations.
    • Need of ferry operations. traffic loads, interstate commuters going to and from work, commerce, and tourism.
    • Identify strengths and weaknesses of each ferry location and provide possible operational improvements
    • Review landings and access road ownership, and other assets with maintenance/improvement responsibility at each location
    • Review of existing state (and private or municipal owned) signage on each side of the river and signage on the interstate highways in Illinois and Missouri.
    • Review of flooding impacts on ferry operations
    • Ownership of the ferries, hours of operation, seasonal, etc.
    • Ridership, including historical data for previous 20 years, if available
    • Operational costs of the ferries (state vs municipal vs privately owned and operated)
    • Current and historic toll / vehicle fees per location
    • Age and condition of assets (towboats and barges)
    • Interviews with operators, riders and many individuals including tourism, Jerseyville, Grafton, Hardin, Brussels, St. Charles
    • Seek input of paper and electronic surveys to passengers and others with the opportunity to respond electronically and by e-mail. Possibly provide a standalone study website with survey information and information regarding the study including a place to provide draft and final study documents.  This could also be accomplished by placing a page dedicated to the study on the America’s Central Port District website.
    • IDOT operations comparison
  • Benchmarking
      • Benchmark with other ferries in Illinois and other states, including Cave in Rock Ferry between Illinois and Kentucky, as well as two or three others.
  • Recommendations
    • Recommendations to the State of Illinois
    • Recommendations to the local counties, municipalities
    • Recommendations to the ferry owners, operators

Goals / Outcomes for the Study:

  • Goal: Completion of a statewide (IL) Ferry planning and assessment study to demonstrate its importance to the transportation network in the state
  • Goal: Increased tourism and tourism dollars in the passenger ferry areas, particularly Grafton/Calhoun region
  • Goal: Determine if ferry operations are the most cost-efficient means of allowing motorists to access the opposite side of the River
  • Goal: Determine if a broader system plan, reviewed every five years or so, should be performed
  • Goal: Determine if consolidation or expansion to the ferry system is warranted
  • Goal: Determine if State assistance in private ferry operations is warranted
  • Outcome: Expanded ferry operations in the Grafton / Calhoun area of operations
  • Outcome: Increased Tourism in the Grafton / Calhoun region (could also be a goal) means increased revenue for the States of Illinois and Missouri.
  • Outcome: Implementation Plan


The following information is requested:

  1. Letter of Interest
  2. Firm Overview
    1. Identify your firm and provide an overview of its history, location, and number of employees. Existing marketing materials that contain this information are acceptable.
    2. Describe what makes your firm uniquely qualified to perform the activities described in the scope of services. Maximum 3 pages.
    3. Provide an organizational chart or description identifying the specific personnel who are anticipated being assigned to this project and identify each staff member’s discipline/s and role/s.
    4. For the identified staff members, provide resumes or bios and current workload/availability.
    5. Provide contact information for the primary point of contact for this project
  3. Summary of Qualifications
    1. Project descriptions for a minimum of three (3) related projects completed in the past five (5) years. Inclusion of graphics, plans, and photos are suggested. Provide the name and contact information of each client.
  4. Proposed fee
    1. Based on IDOT requirements, the fee for services shall either be a fixed price or a cost reimbursement with an agreement maximum. Compensation will not be based on the use of a cost-plus-a-percentage-of-cost.
  5. Proposed schedule


One (1) copy of each submittal is requested on or before 3:00 PM on Monday, January 30, 2023 by e-mail, mail, or in-person to the address below.

Dennis Wilmsmeyer
Executive Director
America’s Central Port
1635 West First Street
Granite City, IL 62040
(618) 452-8439

Questions regarding this Request for Proposals should be submitted to the same individual.

Selection Process: 

Following receipt of submissions, a review of each will be completed by a committee. Submissions will be evaluated based on the following criteria (listed in order of relative importance):

  1. Team structure and qualifications,
  2. Quality of past work,
  3. Experience with similar projects,
  4. Proposed fee,
  5. Proposed schedule.

The Port may request additional information or an interview from one or more firms after the submission of the initial proposal in order to clarify or confirm and properly evaluate any submission received.

A recommendation for an award may be made to the Port’s Board of Commissioners at the February 14, 2023 (tentative) Board Meeting pending a final grant agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation.