Construction aims to up tourism at Merrimac ferry

DOT: Merrimac Ferry carried more than 302K cars across Wisconsin River this year

Wisconsin’s Department of Transportation is investing half a million dollars in the Merrimac area to help make the ferry a tourist destination.

In a local and state effort to create a more visitor-friendly environment, a $500,000 project to put in better bathrooms and some storage is underway next to the Merrimac ferry, Wisconsin’s only free ferry that crosses the Wisconsin River between April and November.  The location currently only holds permanent porta-potty structures.

Zach Davenport owns an ice cream shop alongside the ferry dock and says it would improve his business greatly.

“We have probably 30 people a day come through and say, ‘Hey, do you guys have a bathroom we can use?'” he says.

While it sounds like a lot of money, Davenport says this porcelain project doesn’t flush half a million dollars away – instead, it’s an investment in the Wisconsin River area.

“They want it to be more of a destination – come hang out, have lunch, throw a Frisbee-type place,” he says. 

“I think any place around this area that’s this beautiful – around the lake – definitely deserves to be a destination.”

Construction has already started on the project, with plans to have the new structure up and running in time for next year’s ferry season.