New TxDOT ferry named after local resident

Phil Wilson and family on the new Texas Department of Transportation ferry named Phil Wilson.

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

Very few people can say that a boat is named in honor of them and Phil Wilson of River Place is one of those people.

The Texas Department of Transportation welcomed its newest ferry in its Port Aransas fleet with a public dedication of the Phil Wilson on Aug. 20.

“I was very honored and humbled by this recognition,” Wilson said. “TxDOT is respected worldwide and being able to lead it was something I will always treasure.”

The ferries in this fleet are named for former executive directors of TxDOT and are trimmed in the color of the director’s alma mater, which in the case of the Wilson is purple for Hardin-Simmons University.

The Phil Wilson was put into service just before Labor Day weekend. The new ferry becomes the fourth 28-vehicle vessel in the eight-ferry Port Aransas fleet.  

Wilson left TxDOT to become the 11th general manager of the Lower Colorado River Authority in early 2014. This year he is leading the Austin Chamber of Commerce as chairman of the board.

“This is an exciting day for Texas as we christen another ferry to help move people and vehicles across the Corpus Christi Channel,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass at the ferry dedication.

“Additionally, it’s a well-deserved honor for us to dedicate this vessel to a man who has helped advance transportation around the state of Texas during his ongoing career in public service,” Bass said.

The dedication included a ribbon-cutting followed by a tour of the boat. Designed by Elliott Bay Design Group in Seattle, Wash., and built by Southwest Shipyard in Houston, the Wilson features the latest in marine technology including more horsepower, better safety systems, and more advanced navigation systems, according to TxDOT.  

TxDOT operates the ferry system as a public service between Port Aransas and Harbor Island 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and transports more than 3 million vehicles annually.

“I’m proud to be forever linked with a system that helps people get safely where they need to go – whether that’s for work or play,” Wilson said.

Phil and Kristen Wilson and their son, Christian, a 6th grader, were part of the ceremony on Aug. 20 to dedicate the Texas Department of Transportation’s newest ferry, the Phil Wilson.