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November 1, 2011 at 1:33 PM

State to begin work on new ferry

This is a rendering of one of the state ferry system's Issaquah class ferries, the M/V Issaquah (Rendering provided by Washington State Ferries)

Washington State Ferries will begin construction early next year on a new 144-car ferry. The ferry system is replacing aging ferries in its 22-boat fleet.

The state hopes to build three of the 144-car ferries, but has only provided money for the first one. The work will be done by Vigor Industrial, formerly Todd Shipyards, with other shipyards.

The announcement came a day after the state accepted the third and last of its new 64-car ferries, which will run on the Port Townsend-Coupeville route and other runs.

“This has been a momentous week for Washington state and our ferry system,” said Gov. Chris Gregoire, in a release. “We have just taken delivery of the last of our three new 64-car ferries and now we begin construction on a new 144-car ferry — an important action that helps ensure we have modern vessels to continue giving our passengers safe and reliable service.”

The new ferry is scheduled to take about 27 months to build and the estimated cost is $147 million.

This is the last ferry the state has funding for, said Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “We don’t have the money needed just to operate our ferry system at the current level,” she said in a release. “We are on the brink of a crisis.”

Ferries said the new boat will produce 200 jobs at Vigor and 350 more jobs with subcontractors and other shipyards.

Comments | More in General news | Topics: Coupeville, Gov. Chris Gregoire, Port Townsend

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