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New ferry dedication slated for August


Last updated 5/29/2013 at 8:55am

The dedication of the new Keller ferry will be Aug. 14, at the south terminal at Lake Roosevelt on SR-21, officials said last week.

The new 116-foot ferry named the Sanpoil, which cost $12 million, will launch sometime in mid-July from its cocoon-looking construction site at Crescent Bay.

After testing, the Sanpoil will sail to the two terminal sites for final adjustments to the landing areas before going into service sometime in the afternoon of Aug. 14.

A special ribbon cutting will be held at the south shore terminal and the Sanpoil will have its maiden voyage, with celebrities and cars, shortly afterward, Washington Department of Transportation spokesman Al Gilson stated.

Funds for the project came from federal sources, $9.641 million; and state funds, $361,000; with the Colville Tribes contributing $2 million.

The current ferry, the Martha S, has been in service since 1948, providing daily free crossing of Lake Roosevelt from 6 a.m. to midnight. The Martha S is 80 feet long with a beam of 30 feet and will hold 12 cars. The Martha S was named after Martha Shain, who was the wife of then state highway director Clarence Shain at the time it was put into service.

The new Sanpoil ferry will carry 20 cars and have considerable space for walk-on passengers.

The Keller ferry run has been in operation since 1930, with the Martha S providing crossing service since 1948. The Martha S went through a reconditioning period a few years ago, but since parts now have to be hand made, the DOT decided to have a new ferry constructed.

The contract was awarded to Foss Maritime Company with the hull being constructed in Rainier, Ore., before it was shipped to Grand Coulee where all the parts of the new ferry were welded together.

The Sanpoil deck was scheduled for painting late last week and the ferry will likely be launched sometime in July.

Vessel construction began in March, 2012, with Secretary of Transportation Paula Hammond performing the first “ceremonial” weld.


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