MANITOWOC, Wisc. – The SS Badger is doing double duty this year, serving as a car ferry here on Lake Michigan and hauling more than 300 loads of cargo to support the erection of 60 wind towers by General Electric. To continue this service past its normal season, the ferry has reached an agreement with GE to operate until Nov. 2 in order to transport more wind-industry cargo.
The 410′ Badger, which has capacity for up to 620 passengers and 180 vehicles, will continue to carry passengers as it serves the wind industry, and is offering a 40 percent discount on passenger fares from Oct. 14 through Nov. 2.
The ferry operates between Manitowoc, here in Wisconsin, and Ludington, Mich. The Badger is a significant tourist attraction, but local political and business leaders are now pointing to it as being important to the industrial economy as well. The vessel is currently permitted to flush coal ash into Lake Michigan through November. As it looks to increase its cargo carrying, the Badger’s operators are seeking an extension or other workaround to the coal ash flushing.