Construction will begin in December on a second 144-car ferry. The Ferries Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation and shipbuilder Vigor Industrial signed papers this morning to make the second new vessel a reality for customers of the state ferry system.
“This has been a tremendous event for Washington state and our ferry system,” said David Moseley, assistant transportation secretary, Ferries Division. “This is another important step toward revitalizing our aging fleet. These new boats will ensure we have modern vessels to continue giving our passengers safe and reliable service.”
The Legislature funded a second 144-car ferry during the last session. Washington State Ferries (WSF) estimates the first new 144-car ferry will start service in early 2014, and the second ferry early 2015. Construction cost for both vessels is $225 million, and the total cost is $277 million, including owner-furnished equipment, construction management and contingencies. Work on the two vessels will produce more than 500 family-wage jobs at shipyards in the region. The much needed 144-car ferries will replace vessels in the Evergreen State class, which are the oldest ferries in the state fleet.
Design of the ferries is based on the 130-car Issaquah class, which has proven to be the most versatile vessel in the state fleet. The new 144-car ferry will be more comfortable for passengers with added capacity, improved safety systems and better access for customers with disabilities. “This keeps our momentum high for our workers and for the ferry riders of the state,” said Chris Morgan, vice president of Vigor Industrial’s US Fab Division, which is under contract to design and build as many as four of the 144-car ferries. “Building long-term jobs, containing costs and keeping people and goods moving over the water are what this, and what we, are all about.”
The third and fourth vessels that US Fab could be building remain contingent on available funding. WSF operates the largest ferry fleet in the United States. Twenty-three ferries carry nearly 23 million passengers across Puget Sound and its inland waterways each year.