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State gives OK to bid for new ferries

Washington State Ferries announced today it has awarded a bid to Todd Pacific Shipyards for the construction of two 64-car ferries.

It's good news for Whidbey Island, because Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in Freeland in expected to help build the new vessels as a subcontractor to Todd Pacific Shipyards. Nichols Brothers and the Seattle shipyard already are building a similar 64-car ferry under the contract awarded in December for delivery next summer.

The state opened bids last week, and hinted it would approve a construction contract. Todd Pacific Shipyards was the only bidder, and the company submitted a $114 million bid for the two new ferries.

“This contract award is expected to sustain nearly 400 family wage jobs.” said Gov. Chris Gregoire. “These locally built ferries will improve the reliability of auto-passenger ferry service to the communities they will serve.”

The new ferries are expected to take 20 months to complete for each vessel.

“This is an important next step in the process of replacing our aging fleet and improving the safety of our ferry system,” said Washington Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond. “While the question remains on how to fund the ferry system for the long term, I am pleased that we are able to proceed with construction of these much needed ferries.”

The two new ferries will be similar to the 64-car ferry currently under construction.

Once a signed contract and contract security documents are returned from Todd Shipyards, the state will issue a notice to proceed with construction.

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