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Rendering of draft design for new Lummi Island ferry. Source: Whatcom County Public Works

Proposed new ferry vessel design and info will be on display at Lummi Island Saturday Market

LUMMI ISLAND, Wash. — Whatcom County Public Works announced they will have an informational booth at the August 7th Lummi Island Saturday Market, from 10am to 1pm, where people will be able to learn about the design and features of a proposed new ferry vessel.

In addition to viewing displays and drawings at the market, booth visitors will also be able to suggest a name for the new vessel and sign a letter to Federal Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg supporting the County’s grant application for construction funding.

The current ferry vessel in the Lummi Island Ferry System, the Whatcom Chief, is 58 years old and is in need of replacement.

Whatcom Chief making the crossing from Gooseberry Point to Lummi Island (July 24, 2015). Photo: My Ferndale News
Whatcom Chief making the crossing from Gooseberry Point to Lummi Island (July 24, 2015). Photo: Whatcom News

County officials say they have been in the process to identify a new ferry vessel design that meets the needs of island residents, taxpayers, vessel crew members, the environment and required regulations. 

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“In the last few years we have worked with the island community to understand what they would like in their next ferry and we have engaged an engineering firm to draw up plans for the new boat that take into account County Council level of service requirements, crew needs, Coast Guard and other regulatory requirements,” said Senior Ferry Master Rich Hudson.

Design method goals include the following. 

  • Improve safety
  • Ensure fiscally responsible choices and features without unnecessary options
  • Encompass more than 200 years of directly relatable experience in vessel maintenance, operations, and construction
  • Incorporate best practices from small vehicle ferry operators across the state of Washington
  • Heavily involve vessel crew and maintenance staff input
  • Reduce environmental footprint with noise, vibration, and light pollution
  • Improve operations
  • Reduce out-of-service maintenance time
  • Add redundancy for improved reliability
  • Improve the passenger experience
  • Comply with all level of service requirements adopted by the Whatcom County Council in Resolution 2018-026
    • Accommodate all walk-on passengers during typical peak times
    • Accommodate legal loads of vehicles per Washington State Commercial Vehicle Guidelines
    • Meet or exceed U.S. Coast Guard safety standards and the Americans with Disabilities Act
    • Approach the goal of a carbon neutral vessel by providing flexibility for future electric conversion

The county has submitted a RAISE Grant Application to the US Department of Transportation to modernize the Lummi Island Ferry System.

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