04/13/2009: "New Ferries Coming Sooner Than Later -Morris"
OLYMPIA -Thanks to an amendment to the House Transportation budget offered by local lawmaker, House Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Morris (D - Mount Vernon), the state will shave two years off the timeline for new ferries.
(press release) “We need these 144-car ferries sooner rather than later,” said Morris. “This is a great victory, especially during this tight budget year, to bolster the service to our island communities as soon as possible.”
The Transportation budget as passed Friday by the state House places greater priority on vessels over terminals. Work can begin now on three 64-car Island Home ferries to be delivered by 2012, and construction will begin two years earlier in 2014 for two 144-car ferries. The MV Hyak vessel will be rebuilt to get another 30 years of life.
The House budget also books nearly $1.8 billion in ferry savings by prioritizing vessel construction over major terminal improvements, reducing the use of consultants, cutting overhead, investing preservation dollars more strategically, and other savings.
In addition, Rep. Morris led a successful effort this year to save the Anacortes-to-Sidney run that was once again on the chopping block as in years past. Thanks to heavy lobbying and a cooperative effort to strike a deal between Olympia and BC Ferries, the state House and Senate both agreed to keep funding for the route in their budgets. The compromise was made possible in part by a concession from BC Ferries to reduce landing fees at the Sidney terminal by $100,000 a year for the next three years, a savings of around 25 percent.
In total, the House Transportation budget appropriates $4.6 billion for more than 400 transportation construction projects will be on its way to communities across the state. The combined total for capital and operating investments over the next two years is $7.5 billion. The investments are directed at state highways, mega-projects, ferries, transit and more.