By the end of Tuesday,
the Bremerton ferry terminal was supposed to have a new wingwall to
guide ferries to the dock.
Crews went in the water to remove and replace the battered
wingwall, the last timber one in the system. They’re now made out
of hollow steel pilings. The job was expected to last through
At Kingston and Edmonds, crews recently repaired and preserved
dolphin piers — in-water structures used as landing aids for
— Washington State Ferries photo
The first week of cleaning went well on the Agate Pass Bridge,
the Department of Transportation says. You can see above all
the crud that piled up over the years in the before and after
Each day, traffic was reduced to one alternating lane across the
bridge from 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Knowing this, 15 percent of
drivers stayed away during work hours, allowing flaggers to
keep delays to a minimum, typically between 5 and 20 minutes. Only
two grumps complained.
DOT says it would help them if people could reduce discretionary
trips, change their schedules, and use the Kingston and Bremerton
ferries instead of Bainbridge.
Crews have been simultaneously cleaning the bridge, making repairs
and retrofitting the railing. No significant repair issues have
They’ll work throughout the weekend, reducing the bridge to one
lane at 7:45 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, an hour earlier than
weekdays. On Monday, they’ll open the lane at 2:45 p.m., to
accommodate President’s Day traffic.
Port Orchard mayor Tim
Matthes’ city council removed him from the Kitsap Transit board for
more fast-ferry-friendly councilman Rob Putaansuu, but Matthes
didn’t let the move silence him. He supports 30-minute trips to
Seattle, but worries about the boat. The lightweight, low-wake,
one-of-a-kind Rich Passage 1 is too expensive and possibly unsafe,
he wrote last month to the board. Doubters applauded.
The agency responded, investigating the allegations and presenting
findings during a study session Tuesday. Matthes, who was there,
seemed mostly satisfied.
“I appreciated that you took the time to do that,” he said.
He did recommend that the boat undergo dye penetrant, ultrasonic
and X-ray tests to establish a baseline.
Anne Blair, Bainbridge Island mayor and transit board member,
thanked him for playing the devil’s advocate with a board that
leans the other way.
“I’m grateful challenges were made and now we’re going to get some
additional information,” she said. “This is how the process should
Much literally hinges on the hydrofoil, a 14-foot wing that extends
across the catamaran’s tunnel, providing lift so the boat displaces
less water. The foil has been through hell during it’s short life,
but emerged better for the experience, said fast ferry consultant
It fell off during sea trials in March 2010 and had to be fished
off the bottom of Bellingham Bay. After being re-engineered by a
national expert and reattached, it fared well during a second round
of sea trials and a four-month test carrying passengers between
Bremerton and Seattle.
In January 2003, the ferry ran aground on the way to a Port
Townsend shipyard and the foil’s paint was scraped up. In December
2013, a heat blanket keeping moisture out while the boat out of the
water caught fire and the foil was damaged. Matthes claimed it
sustained excessive stress cracks but Sawyer said only the laminate
cracked. Repairs strengthened the joint, she said.
Sawyer addressed a list of problems Matthes said seem to grow with
“Excess vibration”: None have been reported, Sawyer said.
“Diesel motor mount failure causing redesign and retrofit”: The was
no failure. New mounts were installed to make the boat quieter.
“Cavitation when boat operates at hydrofoil speed”: Cavitation is
“Repairs and replacement of jet drives”: Impellers were damaged
when they sucked up gravel during the grounding.
“Exhaust falling off”: Never happened. Three of four had cracks
that were temporarily repaired while the boat was operating and
later rebuilt stronger.
“Damage to saltwater systems because of dissimilar materials”:
There was premature corrosion in the fire/bilge pump system. It was
“Diesel motor warranty and repair work.”: There has been no repair
work to the engines.
Special painting needed because wrong material was used in strut
design”: Some paint eroded. Changes were made to reduce
“High maintenance and operating costs”: Operating costs are in line
with industry standards. Boat is built out of aluminum and
composites, which require little maintenance.
Matthes compared Rich Passage 1 to a hydroplane that wipes out
after hooking a sponson, writing that a failure of the foil or
strut could cause loss of control and sudden change of direction.
“Passengers and crew would be thrown around the cabin like rag
dolls, causing injuries and loss of life.”
RP1 doesn’t fly on top of the water at 135 mph, Sawyer said. At
cruise speed, it lifts about two feet, leaving one foot of the hull
in the water. If the foil fell off, it would just sink like last
time and the boat would drop down on its hull. There would be no
violent action or injuries.
Board members showed most interest in Matthes’ assertion that the
engines are over-stressed and will will wear out quickly. The boat
has to race at 37 knots through Rich Passage to create the least
wake, which is 90 percent of rated capacity. The rest of the time
it runs at 32 knots, 65 percent of capacity.
“How long do you think these engines are going to last,” Poulsbo
mayor and transit board member Becky Erickson asked about speeding
up and slowing down. “I’ve been told you’re going to burn the
engines up. We need to find out now to build into our cost
She requested that manufacturer Caterpillar be consulted.
Kitsap Transit takes passenger safety seriously, said
executive director John Clauson.
“We have investigated every possible concern during the operation
and building of the vessel,” he said. “It has been inspected and
certified by the Coast Guard several times.”