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Port Townsend route may lose a ferry

State cuts could limit Coupeville-Port Townsend run

  • Ken Pickard, of Coupeville, waits to disembark the Chetzemoka at Port Townsend on Monday morning. Pickard rides his bike routinely to take the ferry t...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Ken Pickard, of Coupeville, waits to disembark the Chetzemoka at Port Townsend on Monday morning. Pickard rides his bike routinely to take the ferry to work on a boat in Port Townsend.

  • Zak Fagundes, 21, practices his guitar while riding the Chetzemoka between Port Townsend and the Coupeville landing on Monday morning. Fagundes, who l...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Zak Fagundes, 21, practices his guitar while riding the Chetzemoka between Port Townsend and the Coupeville landing on Monday morning. Fagundes, who lives in Bellingham, was visiting his mother in Port Townsend over the weekend.

  • The Chetzemoka pulls into dock at Port Townsend on Monday morning.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    The Chetzemoka pulls into dock at Port Townsend on Monday morning.

  • Nathan Howat, of Oak Harbor, regularly uses the ferry between Coupeville and Port Townsend for construction work.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Nathan Howat, of Oak Harbor, regularly uses the ferry between Coupeville and Port Townsend for construction work.

  • Cars disembark the Chetzemoka at Port Townsend on Monday morning.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Cars disembark the Chetzemoka at Port Townsend on Monday morning.

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By Gale Fiege
Herald Writer
Published:
  • Ken Pickard, of Coupeville, waits to disembark the Chetzemoka at Port Townsend on Monday morning. Pickard rides his bike routinely to take the ferry t...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Ken Pickard, of Coupeville, waits to disembark the Chetzemoka at Port Townsend on Monday morning. Pickard rides his bike routinely to take the ferry to work on a boat in Port Townsend.

  • Zak Fagundes, 21, practices his guitar while riding the Chetzemoka between Port Townsend and the Coupeville landing on Monday morning. Fagundes, who l...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Zak Fagundes, 21, practices his guitar while riding the Chetzemoka between Port Townsend and the Coupeville landing on Monday morning. Fagundes, who lives in Bellingham, was visiting his mother in Port Townsend over the weekend.

  • The Chetzemoka pulls into dock at Port Townsend on Monday morning.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    The Chetzemoka pulls into dock at Port Townsend on Monday morning.

  • Nathan Howat, of Oak Harbor, regularly uses the ferry between Coupeville and Port Townsend for construction work.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Nathan Howat, of Oak Harbor, regularly uses the ferry between Coupeville and Port Townsend for construction work.

  • Cars disembark the Chetzemoka at Port Townsend on Monday morning.

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Cars disembark the Chetzemoka at Port Townsend on Monday morning.

COUPEVILLE — For now, having just one ferry on the Port Townsend run is OK as far as Ken Pickard is concerned.
“But one boat during the summer season? With all the tourists? Forget it! That's crazy,” said Pickard, a third-generation Coupeville resident.
He isn't the only one unhappy about Gov. Chris Gregoire's proposed state budget, which would send the MV Salish to the San Juan Islands when it begins service in the spring instead of putting it on the run across Admiralty Inlet.
“It's not acceptable,” state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island. “People were promised two boats, and if I have anything to do about it, they're going to get two boats.”
The Salish is under construction and expected to cost $68 million. Haugen has bi-partisan support to keep the Salish on the Coupeville-Port Townsend route.
State Reps. Barbara Bailey and Norma Smith, 10th Legislative District Republicans, are with her. They worry about how losing one ferry will effect those who depend on the route and on the tourism-focused economy of their district.
For Smith, of Clinton, the budget's proposed elimination of the last round trip of the day on the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry run, and proposed fare increases, also are problems.
“The governor's proposed budget places undue responsibility for the (budget) shortfalls on ferry customers,” Smith said in a press release from the state House Republicans.
The rusting, unsafe Steel Electric Class ferries that used to ply the waters of the Port Townsend-Coupeville run were taken out of service in November 2007 because of cracks and leaks. Since then, when the route has been in operation, it has had only single-boat service.
“The drastic service reduction that resulted from the Steel Electrics being pulled continues to have a significant effect on our local economy,” Smith said. “Our businesses, families and communities were promised two vessels and a return to full service.”
Onboard the new MV Chetzemoka on Monday, Pickard said he is a frequent rider. He keeps his sailboat in Port Townsend and pedals his bike to and from the ferry.
“I am concerned about the Chetzemoka because it's costly, big and doesn't seem to be built for this route. We have so many low-tide restrictions and run cancellations planned already,” Pickard said. “I can't imagine what the ferry lines are going to look like this summer. And we can't even fund schools. Who is running this show?”
Nathan Howat, 28, of Oak Harbor, sat nearby. While he does have sympathy for people dependent on tourism, he isn't concerned for himself.
Howat rides the Chetzemoka about three times a week, commuting for his construction company to the Kitsap Peninsula.
“As long as the ferry reservation system stays in place on this run, I am not really worried about what happens this summer,” Howat said. “The tourists don't really know about the system.”
Zak Fagundes, 21, of Bellingham, likes to visit his mom in his hometown of Port Townsend.
“Yeah, the tourists will be the main problem this summer,” Fagundes said. “It's a real shame if they don't get another ferry on this run.”
The governor's office said Washington's ferry system cut about $3.4 million in administrative and non-service costs, but that's not enough to help the state's budget deficit much. Service cuts of about $17 million are needed in order to get the ferry system's budget down to size, the governor's office said.
Jeremy Ginnings, who serves in the Navy aboard the USS Nimitz, travels on the Port Townsend ferry to see his children, who live with their mother in Coupeville.
“I lived up here in Washington before,” Ginnings said. “And without a second ferry on this route, it's really going to suck this summer.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.



Story tags » ClintonCoupevilleOak HarborFerriesGovernorLegislature

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