A man walks through the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

A man walks through the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Mukilteo-Clinton ferry gets grant for renovations focused on walk-ons

The $4.8 million grant from the feds will be split between six aging Washington ferries, to improve the vessels’ interiors.

MUKILTEO — Washington State Ferries will receive $4.8 million in federal funding to refurbish six aging ships — including the M/V Kitsap, which runs on the Mukilteo-Clinton route.

Many details on the plans are hazy, Washington State Ferries spokesperson Ian Sterling said. With the grant announced Wednesday, state officials still need to decide when renovations will take place and what exactly will change.

But likely, the grant will be used to rehabilitate aging interiors of the ships, Sterling said.

All six ships were built over 40 years ago. The expected lifespan, with routine maintenance, is about 60 years.

The money comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, originally signed by the president in November 2021. According to a press release from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, the renovations are expected to extend the life of the aging vessels for up to a decade.

“This project will extend the useful life of the vessels and improve passenger amenities, allowing for more space between passengers in high-occupancy areas, and making cleaning easier for WSF staff,” the press release states.

The benefits will “be primarily felt by the increasing number of walk-on riders in the nation’s largest ferry system,” according to Cantwell’s office.

Cars disembark the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cars disembark the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

While a timeline isn’t concrete, Sterling said the Kitsap upgrades could take place in about a year.

It shouldn’t directly cause any disruptions in service, he said, since the renovations will be planned.

In a separate press release, Roger Millar, secretary of the state Department of Transportation, applauded the efforts.

“Without this critical funding for refurbishment, these vessels would continue to deteriorate and service disruptions would become even more commonplace,” Millar said.

The boat accommodates up to 1,200 passengers and 124 vehicles.

Built in 1980, the Kitsap is headed to its annual planned maintenance period in January, where it will be out of service for 10 weeks.

The Kitsap only runs on the Mukilteo-Clinton route seasonally. During busier spring and summer months, a boat with more capacity takes its place.

Inside the galley of the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Inside the galley of the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Other ferries set for upgrades:

M/V Issaquah (built in 1979): Often serving Fauntleroy-Southworth-Vashon;

M/V Kittitas (1980): Often serving Fauntleroy-Southworth-Vashon;

M/V Cathlamet (1981): Often serving Fauntleroy-Southworth-Vashon;

M/V Chelan (1981): Serving Anacortes-San Juan Islands;

M/V Sealth (1982): Often serving Fauntleroy-Southworth-Vashon.

Jenelle Baumbach: 360-352-8623; jenelle.baumbach@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @jenelleclar

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