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Inflexibility hurts Keystone ferry
Your article of June 16, Boats now Keystone priority, was factual at publication, but unfortunately the facts changed rapidly. Your article suggested it was a fact that Washington State Ferries had solid, pending plans in place to replace the 80-year-old Steel Electric Class ferries on the Port Townsend-Keystone run. Only a few days later, it became apparent that the plans had changed.
Washington State Ferries is apparently building four new 144-car ferries to replace two 130-car Issaquah-class ferries that currently travel between Mukilteo and Clinton. Two of the four new ferries could also possibly replace other Steel Electric Class ferries on other runs in the ferry system. However, the Port Townsend ferry terminal and Keystone ferry terminal can accommodate only the much smaller Steel Electric Class ferry. So, no new ferries are currently in work for that ferry run.
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen and Mayor Nancy Conard have inflexibly held to the position that new ferries to replace the Steel Electric Class ferries on the Port Townsend-Keystone run must do so without changes to the Keystone ferry terminal. That inflexible position apparently has now placed upgrades to the Port Townsend-Keystone run in dead last place of priority with Washington State Ferries.
Next time an 80-year-plus, aging Steel Electric Class ferry gets pulled out of service unexpectedly, and commuters are left in a lurch, thanks should rightfully go to those folks for their inflexibility on this issue. The Port Townsend-Keystone run comprises only two percent of the total State Ferry System traffic. Continued inflexibility by our local leaders on this issue could lead us to having no ferry link whatsoever from Whidbey Island to the Olympic Peninsula.