This was originally posted to: Guemes Island Ferry Committee

Letter To Public Works On Considering A Smaller Ferry

Guemes Island Ferry Committee

Allen Bush, Jr.  Steve Orsini (Chr.)   Carl Ullman  Sandy McKean 


March 3, 2018

Dan Berentson, Director, Public Works Dept
Captain Rachel Rowe, Ferry Operations Division Manager

Skagit County Administration Building
1800 Continental Place
Mt. Vernon, WA  98273 via email

Dear Director Berentson and Captain Rowe:

The Guemes Island Ferry Committee (GIFC) is sincerely appreciative of Skagit County’s work on the M/V Guemes replacement Proposal.  We continue to think that Glosten is an excellent choice for the engineering and related work on the Proposal and we are anxious to work with Glosten and the County as the Proposal is refined.

Accordingly, we offer the following thoughts in an effort to better discharge our responsibility to work with Glosten, the County, and ferry patrons to facilitate the Proposal’s transition to a new vessel.

In our effort, the GIFC has put forth a short list of matters that we feel strongly deserve attention as the Proposal moves forward now that the CRAB application deadline has been met.  (Please see our letter of December 19, 2017, to Glosten and County officials.)

Of that list, one matter in particular deserves prompt action. That is a request to Glosten to provide a cost estimate at reasonable expense for a somewhat smaller boat than the 32 car vessel in the current Proposal, with fewer rescue demands placed on it.  There are several reasons for such an evaluation, among them:

The need to demonstrate to taxpayers and farepayers that the County is carefully considering cost control measures to minimize the burden on them.  The importance of this in community relations is both obvious and impossible to overstate.

Taxpayers and farepayers were earlier told that a smaller boat than the current 32 car Proposal would be satisfactory.  Eliot Bay Design Group, which was hired by the County to lay the foundations on which the current Proposal has been built, specifically said it recommends that a moderately larger ferry [than the Guemes] be built to support the moderate growth in ferry demand.  The new vessel should increase the vehicle capacity by four vehicles to a total of 26 or 18%.  The new vessel should also be designed to accommodate the current terminal facilities.

EBDG Ferry Replacement Plan, November 22, 2013, pp. 12-13.  Again, taxpayers and farepayers need to understand how much might be saved by following this earlier recommendation.

The Proposal includes requirements that the vessel be able to respond to both catastrophic events and long-range emergency rescues which are not mandated by the Coast Guard, for example the complete evacuation of the Island.  Glosten Concept Design Report at pp. 76-77.  There are two issues here: (i) it is not clear why these requirements are imposed, and (ii) it is not clear how much they add to the cost of the Proposal.  It would be useful to know the cost of these non-mandated requirements so they can be evaluated against the necessity and benefits of the requirements.

The current Proposal uses County-wide growth predictions to inform vessel capacity needs.  It is not clear that Guemes will grow at the rate of incorporated areas of the County, nor that Guemes can absorb that level of growth (as suggested, for example by existing water limitations on the Island).  It would help Islanders if they knew how much a smaller boat, keyed to more modest growth estimates, would save.

Accordingly, the GIFC respectfully requests that Glosten be asked to provide estimated cost savings that would accrue by reducing the Proposal to a 26 car boat as recommended by EBDG, or perhaps a 28 car boat as mentioned by Glosten, and by eliminating the non-mandated rescue requirements currently included in the Proposal.  

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very truly yours,

Guemes Island Ferry Committee