News roundup: LNG as ferry fuel, Martinac Shipbuilding, and WSF consulting studies

As usual, the Kitsap Sun does an excellent job of reporting on ferry issues. Four articles came out within the past couple of days on two important issues. First up: the proposal to begin switching ferries to run on LNG (Liquified Natural Gas)  instead of diesel fuel:

Report highlights potential pitfalls for liquefied natural gas-fueled ferries:

“WSF, citing a study by a Seattle-based marine engineering firm, announced in August that it could save millions of dollars per year by converting. The cost of converting the boats to LNG engines would be paid for within seven years, WSF said then.

“But the report released Wednesday by Seattle-based Cedar River Group and two other consulting firms wasn’t as optimistic.

“The report, provided to transportation committees from the state House and Senate, indicates that WSF’s venture into liquefied natural gas will have to be methodical and intricately planned out for one or two decades.”

And next up, Pam Dzama has an excellent critique not only of the LNG issue, but also the (seemingly) endless steam of consulting studies that taxpayers are funding:

“I’m sure it’s somewhere hidden in the fine print of Washington state’s budget, but I couldn’t find the line item indicating the amount allocated to funding current and future consulting operations. I’m sure it’s an amount the Legislature doesn’t advertise.

“Two recent articles in the Kitsap Sun about the Washington State Ferries system discussed the findings of two separate studies done by several different consulting organizations. Their findings were delivered to the House and Senate transportation committees…

“Newly appointed Rep. Drew Hansen, D-Bainbridge Island, posited that part of the micromanagement problem comes from the Legislature constantly studying and tinkering with various ferry system requirements and funding ideas, changing priorities year to year…

“Yes, this matter has been studied enough. It’s time for the Legislature to fund the ferries as a legitimate highway system and for ferries management and unions to apply common sense in dealing with their various issues — including the ability to understand the limited resources available to them at this time.”

Two articles about the contract to build two new 144-car ferries:

Tacoma firm in jeopardy of losing its share of ferry work:

“Martinac Shipbuilding has until the end of the business day Tuesday to lower its costs for a new state ferry or lose millions of dollars in work.

“The Tacoma firm is among a team signed to build a 144-car boat for Washington State Ferries. Vigor Industrial — formerly Todd Shipyards — heads the group.

“Vigor’s proposal to the state in July was rejected by WSF Director David Moseley as disappointingly high. The boatbuilding consortium sliced the price to $115.4 million, and the state accepted it Nov. 1.”

Tacoma company makes plug to keep ferry work:

“Martinac Shipbuilding made a counteroffer to try to save its share of work on a new state ferry, and should find out by Wednesday morning whether it succeeded. Also Tuesday, the state auditor said his office would perform an audit next year on the state’s ferry construction program.”

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