WisDOT: Merrimac ferry open for the season at 3 p.m.

For more information contact: DOT regional communications, (608) 246-7928

Mild weather contributes to early start

The Colsac III, the ferry across the Wisconsin River between Columbia and Sauk Counties, will open for the season at 3 p.m. today. The ferry operates free of charge twenty-four hours a day as part of WIS 113.

On average the ferry resumes seasonal operations in early April when the river is free of ice. This year’s mild weather contributed to the early opening.

The ferry made 50,077 crossings and carried 253, 936 vehicles in 2011. The 2011 season also benefited from mild weather, closing operations on Dec. 31, roughly three weeks later than average.

Colsac III is Wisconsin’s only free ferry. The craft holds 15 vehicles at a time, in addition to bicycles and pedestrians. A single crossing takes about seven minutes. The ferry lands at Okee on the south bank of river and Merrimac on the north bank.

The ferry has operated free of charge since 1933. Prior to that, private toll ferries were used dating back to 1844.