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Letter from Lake Michigan: Saying farewell to a much-loved old ferry


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I had a slip at Crosswinds in Ludington for most of the '90s. Would drive up from the Lansing area two out of every three weekends. The Badger is neat to see come in/out and is a classic part of the city's heritage. What I really hated was having to clean the coal dust off my boat every week. Since it is a very fine carbon it stains stuff like fiberglass when stepped on and can be a real pain to get out of the nooks and crannies of a boat. When my parents retired they bought a place a mile or so north of town on Lakeshore Drive since Dad spent a lot of time up there fishing with me. The dust got all over the house and the cars too. Many of the locals hate it... but most don't say anything because it isn't "politically correct" to say anything bad about the ferry since it is perceived to be a big tourist draw and indirectly a big part of the local economy.

The airborne coal soot is bad enough. Dumping 4 tons of coal ash into Lake Michgan per day (1 ton per trip, 4 trips per day) is hidden from most people but is no longer an acceptable action. I'm not a big fan of lots of the convoluted regulation that the EPA is now putting forth but this practice is really outdated and needs to be stopped. Maybe 50 or 75 years ago this would have been "okay" but not in 2012. LMC needs to either modernize their operation or shut it down. There is a good reason that it is the last coal fired ship on the Great Lakes... it is obsolete!

I know that their major concern is the overall cost of updating and the subsequent increase in fare rates will make it non viable. Well the current rates are not exactly cheap and I really doubt that it is used as a frequent method for anyone to travel between Michigan and Wisconsin. It is a tourist novelty. If you want to get across the lake efficiently the newer ferry that goes between Muskegon and Milwaukee is faster and more conveniently located for many.

They have had 5 years plus to find a solution and it does not seem that they have used the time wisely or effectively. Time is up!

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