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Site prep begins for ferry work

Crescent Bay boat launch not affected


The new Keller Ferry “Sanpoil” will be christened July 19, 2013, an official from Foss Maritime Company said Monday.

However, there’s a whole lot of work that has to be completed before then.

Some of that work is occurring this week near the National Park Service boat launch at Crescent Bay, where a 145-foot by 45-foot concrete slab will be poured, on which Foss workers will assemble the new ferry, which will be trucked in to the area in parts.

Access to the boat launch will not be affected by the construction, said National Park Service’s Jon Edwards, but the large parking lot will be partially occupied by equipment and materials.

Workers this week will prepare the space, pour the large concrete slab and run power to the site.

Prior to the arrival of the ferry “pieces,” a fabric housing will be constructed over the slab so Foss can control the temperature inside where the ferry parts are welded together.

Rick McKenna, project manager for Foss, said that the temperature needs to be a constant 60 degrees in order for workers to weld the aluminum hull together.

The largest piece of the ferry, 116 feet long, 22 feet wide, and some 13 feet high, will arrive by special truck convoy. The load will move at night and take up both lanes of the highway, coming from the plant at Rainier, Ore.

McKenna said the load will have to pull off the main highway every half hour or so to allow traffic through.

The schedule calls for the ferry to be assembled by mid-March and launched for testing in mid-June. The July 19 christening will take place at the Keller Ferry landing.

The new ferry was originally scheduled for final assembly in March, but uncertainty about lake levels during that season led the contractor to question the prudence of committing to that schedule, since spring levels in the reservoir controlled by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation can put launch access out of reach.

Currently, McKenna stated, the main part of the hull is being assembled in a cradle and that part of the construction could be completed in mid-November.

Altogether, nine pieces will have to be welded together.

The $9.6 million project replaces the Martha S ferry, which has been in use since 1948.

Foss has contracted with William Winkler Company of Spokane to prepare the site and make the slab.

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