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Sen. Bailey hopes 144-car ferry is funded

Sen. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, will go to work Monday, May 13, on trying to get a third, 144-car ferry funded. If successful, Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland can keep its ferry superstructure production line going, preserving 80 to 100 jobs.

A story about the funding outlook appeared in the May 8 Record but Bailey couldn’t be contacted before press time. Later, she called to express her support for the ferry. “It’s just a matter of which way we find the money to do it,” she said.

The ferry is included in House Bill 1954 which passed out of the House Transportation Committee in the regular session, but has yet to be dealt with by the full House or Senate. That bill includes a new gas tax of 10 cents per gallon plus a variety of new fees. It’s too soon to tell how that bill will fare, Bailey said. “We’ll just have to see how the negotiations go forward.”

While known for her reluctance to support new taxes, Bailey didn’t rule it out for the right transportation package. She pointed out she voted for a five cent gas tax increase during here first term as a member of the House 10 years ago. “That was for three, 144 car ferries,” she said. “They never materialized, that money was spent on other things. But that’s history, that’s water under the bridge.”

She also voted for several fee increases this year that are part of a basic transportation package. The new 144-car ferry is part of a separate “mega project” proposal to be hashed out during the special session. While she wants the new ferry, it all depends on the total package that’s negotiated. “I’ll make my evaluation then,” Bailey said.

 

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