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Sen. Haugen says state will build four new ferries

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen talks at a town hall meeting in Coupeville Saturday. Haugen, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the state will build four new ferries. - Brian Kelly / The Record
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen talks at a town hall meeting in Coupeville Saturday. Haugen, chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the state will build four new ferries.
— image credit: Brian Kelly / The Record

COUPEVILLE — State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen said Washington state will build four new ferries to replace aging vessels in the fleet.

The surprise announcement came during a town hall meeting Saturday in Coupeville. Haugen, a 10th District Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the vessels would be partially built on South Whidbey, with each new vessel pumping about $10 million into the South End economy.

Haugen's revelation drew loud cheers from the crowd of more than 130 that had gathered in the Coupeville Rec Center for the meeting. Haugen, however, created a bit of suspense before sharing the news.

"I can tell you today what nobody one else knows," she said.

"You are all sworn to secrecy," Haugen added, as some in the crowd laughed. "Even my caucus doesn't know what's going to come out of our transportation budget."

"First of all, we are going to build boats. Four of them," she said. The crowd roared its approval.

The state has already committed to building one ferry, a new vessel for the Keystone-Port Townsend route that will carry 64 vehicles.

That ferry is being built by Todd Pacific Shipyards of Seattle, which will construct the hull, and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland.

The current bid on new ferries for the Keystone-Port Townsend run was submitted by Todd Pacific Shipyards and Nichols Brothers; the price was $65.5 million for one ferry and $124.4 million for two.

Nichols Brothers is already doing design and pre-construction work on the new 64-car ferry.

Haugen said two additional ferries would be constructed during the next budget biennium, with the fourth ferry then being built in the following biennium.

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