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Keystone ferries bid $40 million over budget

The cost to build new ferries for Keystone to Port Townsend ferry route is coming in approximately $40 million more than what the Legislature provided.

Todd Pacific Shipyards of Seattle submitted the sole bid for the ferry project. The bid was opened before noon on Tuesday.

The bid price for construction of two of the "Island Home" ferries came in at $124,450,559, while the Legislature had originally provided $84.5 million in funding for the new ferries.

"While I appreciate Todd Shipyards' responsiveness, I am disappointed that there is only one bid," said David Moseley, assistant secretary, WSDOT Ferries Division. "We will identify all viable options before making a decision."

Todd Shipyards also said it could build one "Island Home" vessel for $65,487,328. The Department of Transportation engineer's estimate put the cost of building two vessels at $96 million and the cost for one vessel at $49.4 million.

The Legislature provided funding for construction of one to three ferries.

Ferry officials held a formal bid opening at 11 a.m. at the Ferries Division headquarters in Seattle and Todd Shipyards was the only company to bid on the project.

Hadley Greene, spokesperson for Washington State Ferries, said officials will evaluate the bid in the next couple of days before making a decision.

The Island Home ferries are planned to hold 64 cars and would provide a permanent replacement to the Steel Electric vessels, which were pulled from service in November, 2007 because of safety concerns surrounding the antiquated vessels' hulls.

Since the Steel Electrics were pulled, the long Keystone to Port Townsend ferry route across Admiralty Inlet has been served primarily by the Steilacoom II, a small ferry borrowed from Pierce County. Thursday, several of its runs were canceled due to high winds. In January the Steilacoom II will be pulled from service for maintenance, leaving only a passenger-only vessel for ferry users on the route.

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