Port Townsend may get 2 larger ferries

  • Sunday, April 27, 2008 9:00pm
  • News

Peninsula Daily News news sources

PORT TOWNSEND — It would be a dream come true for Port Townsend residents and merchants.

Instead of a smaller, 50-car ferry, two new, large ferries may operate on the Port Townsend-to-Keystone route.

The state may not build a small car ferry to serve the route after reaching an agreement in principle to continue leasing boats from Pierce County for the run.

If the deal goes through, the state would abandon its plan to build another Steilacoom II, a plan that many Port Townsend leaders had complained was a waste of time and money, especially since the small ferry can’t handle large commercial trucks.

The accord, which is not yet signed, would enable Washington State Ferries to focus solely on constructing two vessels based on the Island Home, a ferry now in use in New England between the island of Martha’s Vineyard and the Massachusetts mainland.

The larger Island Home is more stable than the Steilacoom II, holds up to 80 cars, is preferred by community leaders and is better able to handle the often rough waters of Admiralty Inlet between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island.

Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to review and approve the arrangement early this week.

“This is not a done deal,” Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said.

“We are negotiating details with Pierce County. We are very pleased they’re willing to work with us.

“I’m waiting to talk to the governor. I think this will work out.”

Hammond is cautious because the timing is crucial.

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