Kitsap Transit will pile sand and gravel on a few beaches in early fall to see how much a passenger-only ferry boat will take away.
It’s part of the agency’s attempt to bring back the half-hour commuter run between Bremerton and Seattle.
The study, which could begin in late September, is designed to measure the impact of ferry wakes left by a newly designed ferry. It also would determine whether renourishing an affected area is a viable way to repair ongoing beach damage from vessel wakes.
For the study, sand and gravel approximating what’s already on each beach will be loaded onto the shores from barges during high tide, then graded at low tide. Most of the property owners affected by the new material already have given their approval for the test, Hayes said.
The renourishment work will occur north of Bremerton’s city limits at Enatai Beach, Point White Beach and Pleasant Beach on Bainbridge Island
and Point Glover on the south side of Rich Passage.
Data collected during the state’s fast-ferry season showed Point White saw the most erosion, though Point Glover also may have lost some sediment, according to a Kitsap Transit report.
Between 1998 and 2002, Washington State Ferries offered the half-hour ride on its passenger-only boat.
The wake caused by that boat, however, prompted Rich Passage property owners to sue. They contended the boats were damaging their shorelines.
State budget cuts helped end the passenger-only service completely. A private operator, Kitsap Ferry Co., started offering a replacement service with four round trips per day, but financial loses have forced the company to cut back to one trip in the morning and another in the evening.
Hayes said the agency will have to run boats several times a day with a varying number of passengers during the new test because previous tests showed some damage occurred from the repetition of the run.