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Ferry section to arrive soon


This cocoon-like building at Crescent Bay is where the three pieces of the new ferry will be assembled. The first section is scheduled to arrive in Grand Coulee sometime Wednesday or Thursday this week. -- Roger S. Lucas photo

The 56-foot center section of the new Keller ferry will arrive in Grand Coulee sometime Wednesday or early Thursday morning this week, workers at the Crescent Bay assembly site said Tuesday.

The 20,000-pound section of the all-aluminum boat was placed on a truck trailer late last week for the long and arduous trip from the Foss Maritime boat yard in Rainier, Ore., to the newly constructed assembly location.

Foss workers have been assembling a cocoon-like building where the three pieces of the new ferry will be welded together. The cocoon building will allow Foss to control the temperature, since a constant 60 degrees is required to weld aluminum, officials said.

The new ferry, which will arrive in three pieces, is scheduled to be launched in July and, after a number of tests, will be in service later this year.

The new “Sanpoil” will replace the Martha S ferry which has been in service since 1948.

The Sanpoil is larger, and will be much safer, and carry more vehicles across the Lake Roosevelt on Highway 21, about 16 miles northeast of Wilbur.

One official stated that the route the ferry’s center piece is taking from Oregon includes one bridge where there is only about two inches clearance.

The estimated five-day trip starts almost a year to the day after Foss started construction.

Foss’ bid of $9.5 million was substantially below the engineer’s estimate on the job.

The center section will have two front-end sections welded to it, since vehicles will drive off both ends of the ferry. The new ferry’s capacity will be 20 cars.

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