Follow Up Questions on Ferry Dock Repairs

Following Public Works' response to our inital concerns, we had a few more questions. Our last question was not answered.

Thank you again for your continued interest into our ferry operations. You have a number of questions below and I’ll address them in the order you ask.

1. Why has the sufficiency rating been allowed to decline for five years?

a. As Forrest alluded to in his response, a sufficiency rating is a calculated numerical value used to indicate the sufficiency of a bridge to remain in service. This rating is determined by many factors: structural evaluation, functionality, and condition ratings. If any of these factors are reduced over time the sufficiency rating will be reduced. The transfer spans at the ferry are 2 of the 110 bridges we maintain in Skagit County, along with over 800 miles of roads; we have to allocate Road Funds to the appropriate places as funding becomes available.

2. You assure us that the docks are not in immediate danger of collapse but is not a 50% rating or a 75% rating preferable (and achievable) to a 22.86% rating?

a. The short answer is yes, a higher sufficiency rating is preferable. However funding constraints limit the number of projects we can undertake and complete.

3. Why are Priority One items on the list five years ago still on the list?

a. Prioritization is a dilemma we have to address every day. As I mentioned above we are challenged with maintaining 110 bridges and over 800 miles of roads. We have a limited amount of funding to address all of our needs and at times we have to postpone projects and repairs that we feel will be able to go for a period of time.

4. When specifically does Public Works intend to fix any of these problems?

a. The short answer to this is when funding becomes available.

I hope this helps you understand the situation a little better and if you have any further questions or comments regarding this matter, feel free to contact me at your convenience.
Paul A. Randall-Grutter, P.E.

Question 5

Ferry Manager Rachel Rowe wrote in 2013 "The bridge mechanical, electric, and hydraulic systems have been well maintained over the years keeping the bridges operational. However, the mechanical and electrical systems are in need of upgrades which are scheduled for 2014.” When was that work was actually done?

Our response to Public Works' answers:

Thank you for your candid reply. While you did not answer question five, it seems safe to assume the answer is the same as the previous four - the work has not been done because you have no funds for it. That is, the ferry docks are allowed to deteriorate due to insufficient funds. Seems like a poor calculation to put off maintenance and repair until you have no choice but to fund a massive replacement at much higher cost.

Your statements about lack of funds led us to wonder how other bridges faired in Skagit County. With the single exception of the Burlington Northern Overpass with a rating of just 3, both ferry docks have the worst rating (22.8) in all of Skagit County. Every other bridge you are responsible for has a rating two to four times higher.

Your previous answers prompt one more question: Given that the ferry docks are in worse condition than any other bridge in the county, when will funds become available to maintain and repair them? Sometime before its rating falls below that of the Burlington Northern Overpass?

Joseph Miller
MJ Andrak
Tags: ferry