Proposal to allow ferries to be built outside WAFebruary 26, 2013 @ 6:07 pm
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Under a proposal receiving a hearing Tuesday in the Washington state Senate Transportation Committee, ferries plying the Puget Sound would no longer have to be built in Washington state, fewer apprentice workers would be involved in building them and the state would limit the money it pays for cost overruns.
Taken together, the proposed changes are intended to bring down the cost of buying and building new ferries to be integrated into the aging white-and-green painted fleet in the wake of a recent state auditor's report finding that ferries built in Washington state can cost as much as 40 percent more as those built elsewhere.
Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, co-chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and the bill's sponsor, conceded that he did not expect it to "jump up and run out of this committee" with broad support. However, he added, "we need to have a conversation about this. We really need to look at why do we pay what we pay."
There are currently two new Washington state ferry boats under construction, each with room for 144 cars. House Democrats last week unveiled a transportation revenue package that included $123 million in bonds for a third such ferry, and the state has an option to purchase a fourth.
Sen. King said he does not intend for his bill to affect the pending 144-car ferries.
Rather, he said, it is an attempt to look at how the state can bring down costs going forward while continuing to provide the ferry service that carries 22 million people and 10 million vehicles across the Puget Sound each year. Nine of the state's 22 ferries are at least 40 years old.
Currently, the state's Department of Transportation sets aside as much as 20 percent of a new ferry's cost for so-called change orders, in which the shipbuilder does work not outlined in the original contract. The bill would limit that amount to five percent, and would require the state's Office of Financial Management to sign off on such orders.
Apprentice builders are under current law required to make up 15 percent of the workforce for the building of new ferries _ though the 144-car ferries now being built are not covered by that rule. Under the measure, that number would be reduced to 5 percent.
Separately, the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday heard a pair of bills intended to increase oversight of how the ferry system is run and to look for ways to bring down costs.
Follow AP Writer Jonathan Kaminsky at http://www.twitter.com/jekaminsky
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
Sopranos Star Dies at 51
James Gandolfini, the actor famous for "The Sopranos", died suddenly in Italy
More to the Story
Liberace's ex-lover says the world will hear more of his story, and Michael Jackson's in there
A Skeptic's Doubts
An ESPN columnist doubts Russell Wilson will ever be elite
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.