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Nichols Brothers involvement uncertain for new ferry

Construction of a $147 million, 144-car ferry for Washington's waters will begin soon, state officials announced Tuesday.

Vigor Industrial, the Seattle shipyard that has subcontracted work to Nichols Brothers Boat Builders on the state's new 64-car ferries, signed a contract to begin construction of the new vessel early next year.

The involvement of Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland, however, remains uncertain.

"We have not been officially notified yet," said Nichols Brothers CEO John Collins.

The first step was signing the contract, and the work will be doled out soon, Collins said.

"We have provided a price to them and we're looking forward to the next step," he said. "We're still hopeful that we'll be the selected."

He was unsure when Nichols Brothers would be told of its involvement in the construction of the new ferry. The Department of Transportation estimates the work will create 350 jobs for Vigor's subcontractors.

Construction is scheduled to be completed in about 27 months, or by March 2014. The cost to build the ferry is estimated at $115 million.

Design is based on the 130-car Issaquah-class ferry and the touted benefits include passenger comfort, improved safety and access for disabled customers and reduced operating costs.

Washington State Ferries has a contract with Vigor for up to three 144-car ferries, depending on the availability of funding.

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