Builders to release ferry plans today

OLYMPIA – Two of Washington’s largest shipbuilders are expected to announce today whether they intend to try to collaborate on building four new ferries for the state.

Representatives of Todd Pacific Shipyards Corp. of Seattle and J.M. Martinac Shipbuilding Corp. of Tacoma spent the past month negotiating the framework of a joint venture for sharing contracts worth $342 million.

If the firms don’t unite they’ll likely compete against each other to win the state contract outright.

Wednesday marked a state-imposed deadline for the companies to tell the state the results of the negotiation.

Steve Welch, chairman and chief executive officer of Todd, gave no hints Wednesday of the results.

“We’ll make an announcement tomorrow,” he said Wednesday.

The average age of the ferries in the state’s fleet is 41 years. The last new ferry was launched in 1999.

Efforts to construct four new ferries began in 2001 in the hope of putting the first of them into use by 2009.

Initially, leaders of the ferry system said the primary goal was to retire the fleet’s 80-year-old Steel Electric class vessels – the oldest ferries operating in salt water in the United States.

One of those is the 1927-vintage Klickitat, which operates between Keystone on Whidbey Island and Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. Recently the ferry system changed course and announced that none of the new ferries would replace the old Steel Electrics.

Conflicts between the state and builders on boat design and the bid process have stalled the construction efforts.

The state awarded a ferry building contract to Todd in 2005. Martinac protested and won a ruling in 2006 that made the state restart its bid process.

Martinac has sued the state, contending ferry officials and legislators have acted to prevent the firm from winning any part of the contract.

Last month, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a law intended to get things moving again by giving the companies 30 days to see if they can find common ground.

If Todd and Martinac want to collaborate, they must tell the Department of Transportation in writing of their intent to submit a single proposal for building the 144-car ferries.

A third shipbuilder, Nichols Bros. of Freeland on Whidbey Island, also could be involved. They had previously competed for ferry construction work.

If no agreement is reached, the state Department of Transportation can re-issue a request for proposals for the contract.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Looking east toward the U.S. 2 trestle as cars begin to backup on Thursday, March 1, 2018 in Everett, Wa. The aging westbound span needs replacing and local politicians are looking to federal dollars to get the replacement started. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
U.S. 2 trestle rebuild part of Senate transportation package

Time is short to get the $17.8 billion plan passed. Its link to climate change bills adds intrigue.

Eric Adler, the mystery man who is on Twitter as @EdmondsScanner (E. Wong)
Revealed: The mystery man behind the @EdmondsScanner tweets

He’s a 50-year-old mail carrier who dusted off his English degree to curate 6,000 tales on Twitter.

Man identified in fatal Mill Creek crash

Ian Jensen, 32, died after a multi-vehicle accident Saturday on 35th Avenue SE.

Package funding U.S. 2 trestle, Monroe bypass on the move

A $17.8 billion plan dealing with highways, ferries and transit has cleared the state Senate transportation panel.

Explosion shatters Everett apartment complex windows

Police were called to the Monte Cristo apartment complex, 2929 Hoyt Ave., Tuesday night.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Things are heating up in Olympia — and not just the weather

Here’s what’s happening on Day 94 of the 2021 session of the Washington Legislature.

Jesse L. Hartman (Everett Police Department)
Suspect in fatal Everett shooting captured at U.S. border

Jesse Hartman was arrested in California as he tried to re-enter the country from Mexico.

(Getty Images)
How to get vaccinated in Snohomish County

Availability of doses is always changing, so keep checking back.

As eligibility expands, 4,700 flock to local vaccine clinics

It might be difficult to secure a dose right away in Snohomish County, but keep trying, officials say.

Most Read