River Ferry and 2-way Paging

2-way Paging Used with River Ferry Signs to Alert Motorists

ELTEC’s TC-2000 2-way paging time clock is primarily used to control school zone flashing beacons, but Clackamas County in Oregon uses the system to manage the illuminated “CLOSED” signs, which support the operation of the Canby Ferry on the Willamette River.

Ferry docked

Ferry mid river

The Canby Ferry advises motorists when the ferry is not running; either after normal operating hours or due to an unexpected closure.
Ferry front pole view 023
Ferry sign-front no road view

Four access roads, with signs listing daily operating hours, are located 5 miles from the ferry, which gives motorist advance notice, so they can choose alternate routes. This averts motorist from descending a steep grade with switch backs only to find the ferry closed. There is minimal turning room at the loading ramp; it’s dangerous for vehicles to turn around.

Ferry restrictions-semi sign
Ferry S curve

Throughout the year several reasons require the ferry to unexpectedly shut down; snow/ice, mechanical failure, high water with strong currents, and/or a lot of debris.
In the past when there was a sudden, unexpected prolonged closure, a Clackamas County staffer would drive to each sign and manually hang a “closed” sign. This process took 2 hours to complete with all four signs, so often the public didn’t know for up to 2 hours that the ferry wasn’t running. Additionally, unless the closure was over half the day, it was not worth the 4 hours to install/remove the “closed” signs. Again, motorists were not pleased.
With the installation of ELTEC’s TC-2000 two-way paging system, illuminated “CLOSED” signs were added. Now the red “CLOSED” signs automatically turn on/off daily using the pre-set annual program.

Ferry sign daytime close-up
Ferry night CLOSED sign on

Nowadays when the ferry has an unexpected, prolonged closure during normal business hours, the operator pages the county staffer, who in turn sends an “immediate command” to turn on the “CLOSED” signs, overriding that day’s program. Within minutes all four signs send back an email confirming they’ve received and executed the new command. The lighted signs minimize motorist’s frustration with making the additional 5 mile trip only to find the ferry closed.
Using the TC-2000 two-way paging time clock now gives motorist superior communication and increased productivity with county and ferry personnel. What used to take a ferry operator a total of 4 hours each day to drive to all the advance signs and manually manage them is now done automatically. And, should the ferry need to close during daytime hours, the process takes county staff only minutes to handle.
The Clackamas County staff has received a lot of compliments from the public since installing the illuminated signs with instant notification of closures.