Starting next week the Alabama Department of Transportation will begin construction for a new ferry dock and improvements around the ferry boarding area on Dauphin Island, according to a press release.

The new dock will be constructed just west of the current dock, adjacent to the existing snack bar and restroom facility. Improvements such as a wider dock, new fencing, and a covered shelter with benches will improve safety and appearance around the boarding area.

Ferry dock construction will have minimal impacts to the ferry schedule. Crews expect to open the new dock next summer.

The contract was awarded to Gillis Construction, Inc., out of Bay Minette, whose bid of $456,638.45 was the lowest that met project requirements.

The project is funded in part by a grant from the Ferry Boat Discretionary Fund, administered by the Federal Highway Administration.

In 2013 193,995 passengers used the ferry service that runs between Dauphin Island and Fort Morgan. During the summer peak season the service serves approximately 1200-1300 passengers daily.