HB 1954 has passed the House because two legislators changed their votes from No to Yes. Do not yet know who these individuals are. This is the first of three House bills in the transportation package and includes the third 144-car boat and operational funding for the ferries for the next decade based on a gas tax. The bill funds other important transportation projects as well.
Your letters, emails, calls are making a difference.
The next meeting of the Ferry Community Partnership (FCP) will be on Saturday, January 5, 2013 in the First Floor Chambers of the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton.
This meeting is starting at a special time, 12 noon, so that ferry riders from the San Juans can attend.
There will be a lot to talk about, including what recommendations FCP wants to make regarding a new transportation package, whether FCP wants to advocate for a 3rd Olympic Class Boat, and how to lobby for fixing the system.
Skyping into the meeting is also an option. If you are interested, post a reply to this comment and we’ll put you in touch with the contact person in Bremerton.
We’ll post a full agenda as soon as one is available.
Along with folks from Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan, Adrienne and I attended the WSF San Juan Islands Partnership meeting yesterday in Friday Harbor. We will post a summary and the meeting minutes when they are made available.
If anyone was able to attend the evening meeting, please contact me at email@example.com. We’d love to have a summary of what took place there.
In the meantime, this message came out this morning:
It is time to share your voice with our state’s decision makers. In the coming months, the State Legislature and Governor will be faced with tough choices – should taxes be raised or public services be cut?
Your survey responses will influence critical decisions at the state level, so please complete this important study at http://www.voiceofwashingtonsurvey.org/.
If you are not registered with V.O.W.S., now’s the time!
In his weekly update published July 13, David Moseley discussed recent Federal funds awarded to Washington ferries. He wrote:
New federal funding for WSF
Last week the U.S. Congress passed a federal transportation bill that will provide approximately $40 million for WSF over the next two years. This new source of funding will be a tremendous benefit to the ferry system. The average age of Washington’s ferries is significantly older than other major U.S. ferry systems, making our maintenance and infrastructure replacement costs higher. Funding will be used to renovate, replace and/or upgrade vessel components and systems including steel structures, interior spaces, piping, propulsion, major mechanical/electrical, communication/navigation/lifesaving and security equipment. Specific upcoming tasks which this project may cover include hull and topside paint and restoration of sea valves and propulsion systems. These funds will also help support WSF’s ongoing efforts to retrofit and improve vessels for greater fuel economy, making our ferry system more efficient and better able to deal with rising fuel costs, which have added substantially to our operating budget. The funding will also help pay for the Southworth Timber Trestle & Terminal Replacement Project, currently scheduled for construction in 2015-2018, and for propulsion system and navigation equipment for the new Olympic Class (144-car) ferries.
The bill that provides these funds is called Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) and is summarized here. According to Larry Ehl, founder and editor of Transportation Issues Daily, this bill is significant because ferry systems will receive a portion of these federal funds based on a formula instead of earmarks or competitive grants. Read his recent blog post to learn more.
The House and Senate passed a supplemental transportation budget that will enable construction to begin on the second new 144-car ferry. These stories from local newspapers have more details on the budget:
From the Vashon Beachcomber:
“A bipartisan transportation supplemental budget that overwhelmingly passed in both chambers raises $57 million in new revenue over the remainder of the 2011-2013 biennium with various fee increases. The new money would primarily go toward debt service on a second 144-vehicle ferry, transit operation grants and provide seed money for future projects statewide.
“The Washington State Patrol and Washington State Ferries’ operations accounts, which are both projected to go into the red in 2013, would receive $16 million combined from the new revenues.”
From the Kitsap Sun:
“The Legislature provided $6.5 million to begin servicing $130 million in ferry bonds… Washington State Ferries will receive $7 million from the supplemental budget for a fuel reserve, although it’s not needed now…The ferries system also will get $1 million to plan to introduce liquid natural gas to the fleet, and $500,000 for a visual paging project… Stripped out of the budget, however, was wording that WSF had to maintain ferry routes and schedules at existing levels through the 2013-15 biennium.
“ ‘I greatly appreciate the dedication from our legislators to fund WSF, but this is only a down payment on the long-term needs of the system,’ said director David Moseley. ‘It is unfortunate that the governor’s proposal for a sustainable ferry system was not addressed this session.’ ”
Last Tuesday, State Senators Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island) and Curtis King (R-Yakima) were interviewed by Jessica Gao regarding transportation concerns, including the ferry system. The 14-minute interview can be viewed here. The first 6 minutes will be of particular interest to residents of ferry-served communities.
Thanks to FAC members Howie Rosenfeld and John Whetten for passing along this link.
Yesterday, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the opening of latest round of applications for the Ferry Boat Discretionary Grant Program. The grant funds may be used to build new or upgrade existing ferries and/or to construct ferry terminals. Just $22.2 million is available this time, about one-half of what was granted in the last round. It’s anticipated that each applicant will receive about $5 million. Click here to read the full announcement.
My understanding is that Washington’s build in WA only requirements means the state cannot use these funds (if granted) toward a new boat, but that the funds could be used to cover up to 80% of the costs for terminal construction or retrofitting. If you know more about these grants and eligibility for WSF, please add a comment to this post. I would appreciate gaining a better understanding of how the build in WA requirement impacts WSF.