Washington State Ferries (WSF) will start 2016 with construction of a new Olympic Class ferry, after signing a Notice to Proceed last week with shipbuilder Vigor Industrial for work on its fourth 144-vehicle ferry. Construction begins in January, with delivery scheduled for mid-2018.
Along with the Tokitae
and Chimacum, the fourth Olympic Class ferry is part of a series built to replace four of the state’s oldest ferries built during the 1950s and 1960s.
“Our top priority is keeping the ferry system safe and reliable for the millions of commuters, freight haulers and travelers who depend on us every year,” said WSF Chief of Staff Elizabeth Kosa. “Thanks to state lawmakers and critical funds from Connecting Washington, we are able to meet some of the ferry system’s most urgent needs, including building this new ferry.”
The new ferry will be built at Vigor Industrial, supporting about 500 jobs at Vigor’s Seattle shipyard and contractors around the region. The budget to build the vessel is $122 million. Funding is provided through the Connecting Washington transportation funding package.
Olympic Class ferries are equipped with the latest emergency-evacuation and fire-suppression systems, two Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant elevators, and wider car-deck lanes that provide more room for passengers to access their vehicles. The vessels’ hull design reduces wake and provides better fuel efficiency, while cleaner burning engines reduce emissions.
A public process to determine the fourth ferry’s name is being led by the Washington State Transportation Commission.
The first two Olympic Class ferries were delivered on time and under budget. The third vessel
, under construction at Vigor, is on schedule, under budget and will be assigned to the Seattle/Bremerton route in early 2017.