|(a) Request. (1) Transportation Code, §284.011, authorizes the commission to convey a ferry operated by the department under Transportation Code, §342.001, to a county or local government corporation incorporated under Transportation Code, Chapter 431 in a county to which Transportation Code, Chapter 284 applies. (2) A county or local government corporation may request a conveyance under this section by submitting a written request that includes: (A) an explanation of how the proposed conveyance will improve overall mobility in the region; (B) copies of any completed studies concerning the transfer; (C) a copy of the county's or local government corporation's criteria and guidelines for approval of the conveyance of a ferry; (D) a brief description of any known environmental, social, economic, or cultural resource issues, such as impacts on wetlands and other water resources, endangered species, parks, neighborhoods, businesses, historic buildings or bridges, and archeological sites concerning the transfer; and (E) the name and address of any individuals or organizations known to be opposed to the transfer, and a description of any known controversies concerning the transfer. (b) Public involvement. (1) As part of the information that will be used by the commission in determining whether to convey a ferry, the department will: (A) hold one or more public hearings in the county in which the ferry is located for the purpose of receiving oral comments; and (B) solicit written comments. (2) Notice of a solicitation of written comments and a public hearing held under paragraph (1) of this subsection will be: (A) published in the Texas Register; (B) published in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the county in which the ferry is located; (C) posted on the department's website, with a link to the county's website, if available; and (D) posted on the county's website, if available, with a link to the department's website. (3) The department will publish and post notices under paragraph (2) of this subsection at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing. (4) The department will prepare a summary of the public hearings and all comments received in response to the notice and the hearings. (c) Reimbursement. The county or local government corporation shall reimburse the department for the cost of a conveyed ferry unless the commission determines that the conveyance will result in a substantial net benefit to the state, the department, and the traveling public that equals or exceeds that cost. In computing the cost of the ferry, the commission will include the total dollar amount spent by the department for the original construction of the ferry, including the costs associated with the preliminary engineering and design engineering for plans, specifications, and estimates, the acquisition of necessary rights-of-way, and actual construction of the ferry and all necessary appurtenant facilities, and will consider the anticipated future costs of expanding, improving, maintaining, or operating the ferry to be incurred by the county or local government corporation and not by the department if the ferry is conveyed. (d) Criteria. Subject to the requirements of Subsection (f) of this section, the commission may, after considering public input concerning the proposed conveyance, approve the transfer of a ferry to the county or local government corporation if: (1) the commission determines that the proposed conveyance is an integral part of the region's overall plan to improve mobility in the region; (2) the county agrees to assume all liability and responsibility for the safe and effective maintenance and operation of the ferry on its conveyance; (3) the county agrees to assume all liability and responsibility for compliance with all federal laws, regulations, and policies applicable to the ferry; (4) the county agrees to assume all liability and responsibility for existing and future EPIC, including obtaining all environmental permits and approvals and for compliance with all federal and state environmental laws, regulations, and policies applicable to the ferry and related improvements; (5) the county agrees to provide for public involvement and to conduct a study of the social and environmental impact of all proposed improvements to the ferry; (6) the commissioners' court of the county in which the ferry is located has approved the transfer; and (7) the governing body of the municipality has approved the conveyance, if any of the docking facilities used by the ferry are located in a municipality with a population of 8,000 or less. (e) Preliminary approval. Subject to the requirements of subsection (f) of this section, the commission may grant preliminary approval of the conveyance of a ferry, with final approval conditioned on the completion of preliminary studies necessary for the commission to make the findings required by subsection (d) of this section, including social, economic, and environmental studies. The commission may require the county to pay for or complete all or a portion of the preliminary studies. Upon completion of the preliminary studies, the department will hold one or more additional public hearings. The department will publish and post notice of a hearing held under this subsection in accordance with subsection (b)(2) of this section. The commission may grant final approval of the conveyance consistent with the requirements of subsections (d) and (f) of this section. (f) Conveyance. (1) If the commission approves a conveyance under subsection (D) or (e) of this section, the commission will notify the governing body of the municipality in which the ferry is located so that the governing body may order an election on the approval of the conveyance. (2) The commission will convey the ferry if approved by a majority of the voters in the municipality and, if required by federal law, by the United States Department of Transportation. Coincident with the conveyance, the commission will remove the ferry from the designated state highway system, and the county shall assume all liability, responsibility, and duty for financing, design, construction, maintenance and operation of the ferry.