An upcoming electrical project at both Lummi Island ferry terminals is expected to solve electrical supply problems that were contributing to terminal hoist motor failures that disrupted ferry service in past months.
According to the request for bid documents, the ferry terminal electrical repair and replacement project was estimated to cost about $140,000 but the two lowest bids received both came in at over $200,000.
The ferry and terminals are maintained and operated by the Ferry Division of Whatcom County Public Works.
According to Whatcom County Engineer Christina Schoenfelder, the bulk of the work will occur at the Gooseberry Point terminal where the electrical distribution system will be overhauled and upgraded, including switching power service from 208 volt to 480 volt.
There will also be some minor repairs and improvements made to the Lummi Island terminal.
The Gooseberry Point terminal will receive many new parts to replace aged and corroded equipment currently in use, including a new hoist motor.
Schoenfelder said the contractor plans to do as much preparatory work as they can without disrupting ferry service prior to dry dock and the switch over to 480 volt equipment will happen during the dry dock window.
Each year, the Whatcom Chief spends time in dry dock in order to undergo annual maintenance, usually during September. It can be in dry dock from 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the extent of the maintenance needed.
The more recent mechanical service interruptions were related to issues with a bearing on the apron, unrelated to the electrical project. Whatcom County Public Works crews are planning to address that problem during dry dock as well according to Schoenfelder.