Guemes Ferry News
Ferry Public Forum:
We’ve set our spring Ferry Public Forum for Saturday, April 28, at 1:30 p.m. at the Guemes Island Community Center, 7549 Guemes Island Road. Please join Skagit County Commissioners Ken Dahlstedt and Ron Wesen, along with representatives from Skagit County Public Works and Glosten, for a discussion about the ferry replacement project and following agenda items:
- County Ferry Capital Improvement Program grant – Public Works staff will meet with the County Road Administration Board (CRAB) the afternoon of Thursday, April 19, to follow up on our application for funding for up to $10 million for the ferry replacement project. A technical review committee was created to review our application, and their recommendation for funding is based on whether or not the County forms a ferry district. If we form a ferry district, the technical review committee recommends that we be eligible for 50% of the project cost, currently estimated at $10 million (the maximum amount available). Without a ferry district the committee recommends that we receive 30% of the project cost, currently estimated at $7.5 million. The technical review committee’s recommendations have been submitted to the CRAB board. The CRAB board could decide on April 19 whether to award Skagit County the funds, or they could wait until their summer meeting in July to make a decision. Either way, funding would not officially be approved by the state legislature, or available to Skagit County, until summer of 2019.
- SEPA review update – Skagit County Planning and Development Services (PDS) has contracted with BERK Consulting to perform an environmental assessment of the proposal to replace the Guemes Island Ferry. The draft environmental assessment is now available at skagitcounty.net/ferryenviro. PDS is soliciting comment on the draft now, prior to finalizing the environmental assessment and prior to issuing a threshold determination under the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA). Another 14-day required comment period will also follow issuance of the threshold determination.
- 28-car ferry preliminary cost estimate – On March 2, the Guemes Island Ferry Committee requested that Skagit County Public Works request a cost estimate for a smaller 28-car ferry, rather than the currently proposed 32-car ferry. Glosten has completed this task, and the cost estimate is currently available at net/PublicWorksFerryReplacement/Documents/28-Car%20Cost%20Estimate.pdf. The estimate evaluates only the all-electric propulsion system, anticipating that other propulsion systems will scale similarly in terms of cost. The analysis notes that reducing vessel size by 4 cars represents a 15 % reduction in overall capital cost. A 32-car ferry is currently estimated at roughly $26 million and a 28-car vessel approximately $22 million. The terminal and dolphin upgrade costs remain the same for a 28-car vessel; costs for shore-side electrical decrease slightly, from $8 million to $7.2 million.
- Vessel replacement surcharge – The Board of Skagit County Commissioners is considering a vessel replacement surcharge (per RCW 36.54.200). The Board is considering a surcharge of $1.00 per adult passenger, $0.50 per senior/youth/disabled passenger, $1.00 per motorcycle, $2.00 per vehicle and $5.00 per oversize vehicle. Frequent-user punch card prices would be adjusted and discounted accordingly. Other proposed changes to the fare schedule include extending the expiration of vehicle punch cards from 90 days to 120 days and eliminating the fee for bicycles. Revenue generated from the surcharge (estimated at roughly $245,000 per year) can only be used for vessel replacement. A public comment period is now open, and written comments are due Friday, April 27, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. Comments made at the Public Forum will be considered. More information about the vessel replacement surcharge can be found at net/ferry.
- Ferry Fare Revenue Target Report – The 2017 fare box revenue met the revenue target; therefore, Public Works is not recommending a general fare increase in 2018. The Draft 2018 Ferry Fare Revenue Target Report is subject to the Public Forum process. The draft report is available at net/ferry. A public comment period is open through the close of the Public Forum, Saturday, April 28, with written comments due Friday, April 27, 2018. The draft report was presented to the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday, April 10, 2018; that presentation is now available at http://skagit.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=8&clip_id=2792.
We look forward to seeing you at the meeting.