While the state's four Steel Electric-class ferries remain idled by concerns over pitting and leaks in their hulls, Washington lawmakers were told Monday there is no simple solution to putting the car ferries back on the Port Townsend-Keystone route.
Building new ferries to replace the 80-year-old vessels could cost $40 million each....
State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond last week ordered that the four Steel Electric ferries — the Klickitat, the Illahee, the Nisqually and the Quinault — be taken out of service to inspect their hulls.
That came after evidence that the Quinault, now in dry dock on Harbor Island, was showing signs of damage from 80 years on saltwater. "We reached the tipping point," Hammond said. "The most prudent thing to do was to pull them out of service."
The boats, built in 1927, are the only ferries capable of operating in Keystone's narrow and shallow Whidbey Island harbor.
Emphasis, the FLUBA's in that last sentence, because in 1927 the State of Washington wasn't in the ferry business. Those ferries were built by entrepreneurs seeking profits by transporting people and their cars around Puget Sound. Which should be a clue for the state legislature.