Pierce County has agreed to let Washington State Ferries continue leasing the county ferry Steilacoom II while the state completes construction of a 64-car vessel for the Port Townsend-Keystone route.
The original lease expired in August. Under a new Vessel Charter Agreement, the county will extend the state’s lease for an additional 12 months, with the possibility of two one-month extensions. The state will return the vessel as early as August 2010, and no later than October 2010.
WSF agreed to share in the cost of extra maintenance on the county’s remaining vessel, the Christine Anderson, recognizing the demands of continual service and the need for emergency maintenance that is sometimes necessary to keep the vessel in service to Pierce County residents on Anderson and Ketron islands.
The new lease still requires WSF to dry-dock the Steilacoom II when the lease expires in order to bring the vessel back to the same condition as when they acquired it. Each compartment and the hull will be refurbished before the vessel is returned.
“Partnerships like these are important. We are happy to assist the state with a critical transportation service, and we appreciate the state’s willingness to contribute to the maintenance of our vessels,” Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy said.
“We greatly appreciate the support Pierce County has demonstrated,” said David Moseley, Assistant Secretary, WSDOT Ferries Division. “We’re moving forward to build new vessels as quickly as possible. Pierce County continues to be a great partner to make sure that service continues between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island in the meantime.”
WSF plans to build four new ferries and put them into service over the next five years. The first ferry will be ready for service on the Port Townsend/Keystone route in late summer 2010.