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Boston receives $1.2 million US grant to buy two ferry boats

East Boston could be connected to the city’s other waterfront neighborhoods by boat as early as next year, thanks to a substantial federal grant.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced Tuesday that the Federal Highway Administration had awarded $1.28 million for Boston to purchase two ferry boats. The federal agency will also assist in implementing the new service.

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Menino launched a new push to revitalize the East Boston waterfront in his annual policy speech at the Boston Chamber of Commerce last year. He said the city would bring more water transportation to the area, where a previous ferry service to downtown in the mid-1990s failed because of a lack of passengers.

The city’s new plan would connect East Boston with Charlestown and South Boston, areas less accessible from East Boston by subway.

Details on the ferries’ routes and the cost of a ride are still under review, but the initiative is projected to launch sometime in 2013. The city will solicit bids this fall for a contractor to operate the ferry service.

Menino and others have hailed the potential benefits of easy transportation between East Boston and the so-called Innovation District in the South Boston Seaport area, where a growing number of technology companies and other employers are creating desirable jobs.

“The car is no longer king in Boston, and today I’m proud to announce a new way to move people around the city,” Menino said in a statement Tuesday. “The inner harbor ferry service will decrease congestion and improve air quality while investing in new affordable transportation infrastructure and adding value to Boston’s waterfront communities.”

For more news from Boston neighborhoods and surroundings towns and cities, go to boston.com/yourtown. Jeremy Fox can be reached at jeremycfox@gmail.com.
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