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Eye On Olympia

After you…No, after you…No, after you…

The House yesterday approved SB 5088, an anti-jackass bill intended to discourage people from cutting in line while waiting for the state ferries. As things stand now, the only penalty at state officials’ disposal is to send the offender to the back of the line.

The bill would make cutting in a ferry line a traffic infraction, meaning a likely fine of $101. (And you’d still be booted to the back of the line.)

But for at least one ferry, Rep. Lynn Schindler felt, there’s little point to such a fine. The Martha S., State Route 21’s little Keller Ferry, which for nearly 60 years has been trundling on its 10-minute trip across the Columbia River between Ferry and Lincoln counties, isn’t exactly known for vast backlogs of Puget Sound commuters quivering with barely-suppressed road rage. The nearest towns are Wilbur, 14 miles to the south, and Republic, 53 miles to the north.

In fact, there is usually no set schedule for the 12-car Keller Ferry. When you show up on either bank, the little boat’s crew sees you and comes to get you. (Also, the ferry’s free, a fact best not mentioned to the Puget Sound multitudes…)

So Schindler got an amendment put on the bill, exempting the Keller Ferry from the new rule. That’s right: Cut at will, Highway 21 travelers. At worst, you’ll be send to the back of the line. If you can find a line, that is.

“I don’t think if one car goes in front of the other car” that anyone should be fined $101 dollars, said Schindler, R-Otis Orchards.

Majority Democrats agreed. “I think she has pointed out something we need to address,” said Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island.

So, in a rousing show of bipartisanship, the House approved Schindler’s amendment. Rep. Bob Sump, R-Republic, who’s battling laryngitis at the moment, gave the measure a thumbs-up.

In the Senate, an amendment to ban idling your car in a ferry line (for more than 3 minutes if gas-powered, or 5 minutes for diesels) was withdrawn. (It included an exemption for very hot or cold days, or trucks with refrigeration, etc.)


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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