State still pondering where to put new 144-car ferry

The fate of an effort to bring the fourth and final 144-car ferry to South Whidbey remains unknown.

Ray Deardorf, planning director for Washington State Ferries, said Tuesday that agency officials have discussed where to home port the Suquamish but have yet to make a decision. He could not say when that might occur, but indicated it won’t be long.

“We need to do it fairly soon,” Deardorf said.

The agency is looking at system-wide needs first, but Deardorf said several routes are in the running for the new boat. Issues such as capacity, maintenance and fuel consumption are all factors under consideration.

A ferry spokesman said in October that a decision could be announced as soon as November, but that it could also be longer. He also said the Clinton-to-Mukilteo route was at the top of a short list of routes being considered.

Commuters and Clinton leaders say ferry lines this summer were the worst in recent memory. The Clinton Community Council led an effort to united the South End in a lobbying effort to get the Suquamish, which is expected to go into service in late 2018.

If it were home ported in Clinton, it would join the Tokitae, the first of the new 144-car ferries built.

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