The Washington Ferry Coalition brings together people and businesses that recognize the importance of an efficient ferry system to fill the transportation needs of Western Washington and serve as an economic asset for the entire state.

Forums provide opportunity to comment on critical need for third 144-car ferry

As the Governor and Legislature continue to work on passing a transportation package, the Senate has announced a set of forums in September and October to receive public comment. See the box below for a full schedule.

Everyone acknowledges that at least one and possibly two more ferries are needed to replace aging vessels in the fleet. Building another 144-car ferry is not controversial – it was in every transportation package considered last session. Compelling reasons to build now include:

1) Reforms are underway: Vigor, its subs and WSF have already improved ferry construction for the 144-car ferries, including practices recommended by the state auditor.

Applying lessons learned, complete design before construction and successive vessel construction have dramatically reduced change orders and saved taxpayer dollars in the current successful 144-car ferry build program.

2) Building now would help avert higher costs for taxpayers, a loss of jobs and slowdown of the state’s economic recovery and would avoid putting ferry communities at risk.

Higher vessel costs occur with delay because efficiencies of continuous construction are lost, shipyards have to dismantle and reassemble infrastructure needed for construction, and a new workforce must be assembled when ferry-building resumes.

Building in succession helped the state get great boats for a great price with the 144s.

Lost jobs due to delaying construction of another ferry hurt the revival of the Puget Sound maritime industry and the economy. Jobs lost would include:

  • Hundreds of direct, family-wage skilled jobs at Vigor and Nichols Brothers on Whidbey island
  • Additional direct jobs at other subs
  • Indirect jobs created by the spending & activity above

Ferry communities are put at risk by delay because existing ferries are at the very end of their lifespan and there are no spares available.

  • The economy of ferry communities suffered when the Steel Electrics had to be pulled from service.
  • Ferry riders need assurance that the vessels they are on are safe.
  • In addition to 60-year-old ferries that need replacing, there is another boat in the system that is barely hanging together and needing constant maintenance to keep running.
  • The lesson of the Steel Electrics is that you don’t want to wait until you lose vessels to build ferries you need.

Building another 144-car ferry is good public policy and so important that it needs to go forward now.

Senate Transportation Committee co-chairs Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, and Sen. Tracey Eide, D-Federal Way, have announced the dates and cities for a statewide listening tour to gather input from Washington residents on building a new transportation package.

Legislators will hold at least one public meeting in each of the Department of Transportation’s six regions. Meetings will run 6-9 p.m. and feature presentations from regional transportation officials as well as the opportunity for public comment.


  • Sept. 17 – Bellevue (Northwest Region)
    • Stevenson Elementary School, 14220 NE 8th St., Bellevue, WA 98007
  • Sept. 18 – Everett (Northwest Region)
    • Snohomish County, Robert Drewel Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., 1st floor, Everett, WA 98201
  • Sept. 23 – Wenatchee (North Central Region)
    • Chelan County PUD Auditorium, 327 N Wenatchee Ave, Wenatchee, WA 98801
  • Sept. 24 – Yakima (South Central Region)
    • Yakima Area Arboretum, Garden View Rm., 1401 Arboretum Dr., Yakima, WA 98901
  • Sept. 26 – Tri-Cities (South Central Region)
    • Columbia Basin College, 2600 N. 20th Ave., Pasco, WA 99301
  • Oct. 2 – Spokane (Eastern Region)
    • Greater Spokane Inc., 801 W. Riverside, Spokane, WA 99201
  • Oct. 7 – Vancouver (Southwest Region)
    • Vancouver Community Library, Columbia Room, 901 C St., Vancouver, WA 98660
  • Oct. 9 – Tacoma (Olympic Region)
    • Evergreen Tacoma Campus, Lyceum Hall, 1210 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98405
  • Oct. 14 – Seattle (Northwest Region)
    • King County Courthouse, Room 1001, 516 3rd Ave., 10th floor, Seattle, WA 98104
  • Oct. 15 – Bellingham (Northwest Region)
    • Port of Bellingham Cruise Terminal, 355 Harris Ave., Bellingham, WA 98225

Community leaders mark opening of training center

Leaders from education, the maritime industry and state and local politics were on hand to celebrate the opening of an industrial training center at Vigor Industrial’s Seattle shipyard on June 7.

The Harbor Island Training Center, a partnership between Vigor Industrial and South Seattle Community College, is designed to provide students with the industrial skills they need to get family-wage jobs at the region’s industrial manufacturers.

The center includes an industrial training floor with weld-booths and machining equipment, as well as a computer lab and classroom space. Vigor provided the equipment and a location in a real-world industrial workplace, while South Seattle Community College brought expertise in skills training and instruction through its welding and manufacturing programs.

“People want to work and industry needs a highly skilled workforce,” said Sue Haley, Vigor’s senior vice president of human resources. “However, Vigor and other manufacturers can’t find enough workers with the right skills to fill good-paying jobs. This training center will bridge that disconnect by providing motivated local people with critical industrial skills.”

Speaking at the June 7 opening ceremony were Vigor CEO Frank Foti; Gary Oertli, President of South Seattle Community College; State Rep. Judy Clibborn; State Rep. Larry Seaquist; Jimmy Hart, Director of Metal Trades at the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters; and Marlena Sessions, CEO of Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County.

Cutting the ribbon for the new Harbor Island Training Center. From left: State Rep. Larry Seaquist; Vigor CEO Frank Foti; Jimmy Hart, Director of Metal Trades at the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters; Gary Oertli, President of South Seattle Community College; Marlena Sessions, CEO of Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County; and State Rep. Judy Clibborn.

Candidates for welding courses at the Harbor Island Training Center observe a live welding demonstration during the center’s opening ceremony. Welding classes at the center start July 1.


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