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Ferry woes need solution
Many of us are reeling with the news of the closure of the Port Townsend/Keystone ferry run. I couldnt agree more with the words of State Rep. Barbara Bailey, This closure is something that could have and should have been prevented.
But Ive never been one to dwell heavily on the past. We need now to embrace the present and the future. This closure impacts many people, those who live on the Port Townsend side and work on Whidbey Island and vice versa, and those who frequent businesses across the pond from where they live, those who have family and friends on the other side, and those who enjoy the wonderful recreational opportunities accessible on both sides.
But my highest awareness since I heard this news has been of the many people who seek medical care outside of their home community. As an osteopathic physician practicing in Freeland I am keenly aware of the services available on Whidbey that are not available on the peninsula and vice versa. Thirty percent of my patients are dependent on the Port Townsend/Keystone ferry to see me. Many lives are being seriously affected by this closure.
May I be so bold as to propose a way forward? To create a viable Whidbey public transit option, we must link the promised passenger-only ferry with the Island Transit schedule. The schedules are currently poorly compatible. If this is not feasible, the ferry system should contract with Island Transit to provide van transportation to Freeland and Coupeville meeting and returning to every boat during business hours.
Patients who seek care outside of these two locales would at least be able to wait for Island Transit buses in a more hospitable location than Highway 525.
For a longer term vision, may I implore the citizens of Port Townsend and Washington State Ferries to unite on a solution to the problem of the holding area for vehicle traffic in Port Townsend. And it is essential for the ferries to construct on the Whidbey side a new dock in a more suitable location, one not affected by low tides and ebb currents.
We also need an immediate contract for the building of replacement boats. These, now dry-docked, 80-year-old Steel Electrics were, last week, the oldest saltwater ferries still in use in the United States. They have served long and hard. They must be retired.
Lets work together toward a solution.