Governor says state will spend $100 million on three new ferries

Gov. Chris Gregoire said today she will put $100 million in the 2008 supplemental state budget to pay for three new ferries.

The move would mean the retirement of the state's 80-year-old Steel Electric ferries, which were pulled out of service last month on the Port Townsend-Keystone run.

Gregoire also announced today that Washington will rent a ferry from Pierce County so auto-ferry service can be restarted on the Port Townsend-Keystone route by mid to late January.

The state has also signed a contract with Todd Pacific Shipyards to move forward with a procurement process for the new ferries.

“We must act now to replace older ferries with newer, safer and more efficient vessels,” Gregoire said.

“The Washington state ferry system is an integral part of the Puget Sound’s transportation infrastructure and a growing number of Washingtonians are coming to rely on them daily. I intend to maintain our current routes without sacrificing the safety of our citizens,” she said.

Gregoire will release her full supplemental budget proposal on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

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