Plan: assemble new ferry in Grand Coulee


The new Keller ferry will likely be assembled near the Crescent Bay boat ramp before its launch in May, 2013, the Regional Board of Mayors learned recently.

Two officials, Mark Houghton and Warren Snider, of the Foss Maritime Company, the successful bidders on the project, briefed the mayors on the schedule and procedure they plan to follow in delivering the new 116-foot ferry to the Keller Ferry site.

Foss submitted the winning bid of $9.6 million, some $250,000 below the Department of Transportation estimate of the cost of the ferry that will replace the old Martha S currently in use. The next lowest bid came in at nearly $14.6 million from U.S. Fab LLC.

According to Houghton, the Rainier, Ore., shipyard foreman, the new ferry will be shipped to Grand Coulee by truck in three pieces and assembled in a temporary building planned near the Crescent Bay boat launch.

The boat company is in the process now of getting an okay from the National Park Service for the staging area.

If all that comes to pass, the ferry will be launched for its final testing before going up Lake Roosevelt to its service area at the Keller ferry site.

The new ferry, a 116-foot long aluminum-framed vessel, will be 45.8 feet wide and have a draft of seven feet.  It will handle 22 standard autos and 149 walk-on passengers.

Funding for the new ferry comes from the federal government, $2 million from the Colville Confederated Tribes and $361,000 from state funds.

The new ferry will connect traffic on State Route 21 between Wilbur and Republic, across Lake Roosevelt, serving a variety of users and about 165 cars a day. The ferry is used to help transport some Keller area students to Wilbur schools.

“We’ve worked long and hard to replace this ferry,” said State Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond.

The new ferry will replace the current 12-car, 78-foot long ferry which has been in place since 1948 with a projected use of 60 years. In 2009 the old Martha S ferry underwent major repairs when a crack in its hull threatened the operation of the vessel.

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Houghton said that two qualified members of the Colville Tribes will be hired and will follow the vessel through construction to assembly.

The crew of the new vessel will undergo state sponsored training and the vessel itself will have to pass rigid Coast Guard inspections.

Houghton said the assembly units should start arriving at Crescent Bay around November, 2012.

“The staging area at Crescent Bay all depends upon our getting approval from the NPS,” Houghton added.

The name of the new ferry hasn’t been determined, Houghton noted.


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