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Getting There: Upgraded Keller Ferry expected to run in 2013

The Keller Ferry, which crosses Lake Roosevelt at Keller on Highway 21, is among the projects that could be funded with any economic stimulus money that comes to Washington  (The Spokesman-Review)
The Keller Ferry, which crosses Lake Roosevelt at Keller on Highway 21, is among the projects that could be funded with any economic stimulus money that comes to Washington (The Spokesman-Review)

A Seattle shipyard has won a $9 million bid to build a replacement for the small ferry boat that carries traffic across the Columbia River north of Wilbur, Wash.

The Martha S. has been in service since 1948, carrying up to 12 cars in a crossing.

The need for a new ferry has been evident for years.

Its steel hull is aging, so much so that two years ago it sprang a leak, forcing the boat to dock for repairs.

A gear malfunction earlier the same year caused the boat to drift with passengers on board.

At 116 feet in length, the 20-car replacement will be 41 feet longer than the Martha S.

Its aluminum hull will require fewer inspections and won’t need painting. The deck will be capable of carrying two semitrucks while still holding nine passenger vehicles.

The new ferry will also meet a U.S. Coast Guard standard of having two hull compartments for stability in case of damage.

Foss Maritime Co. beat out two other Pacific Northwest competitors with a $9.5 million offer. Construction is expected to take two years.

The new ferry should be ready for launching in 2013. Terminal improvements are included in the $12 million project.

The 1.25-mile Keller Ferry crossing is part of state Highway 21 and provides a critical link between Wilbur and Republic. It hauls about 60,000 vehicles a year on 30 to 35 crossings a day. The state provides the service free to the public.

It is also an important route for members of the Colville tribes, which contributed $2 million to the project.

The Keller crossing has been operated by the state since 1930, which predates its acquisition of Puget Sound crossings by 21 years, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. It runs between Lincoln County on the south shore and Ferry County on the north near the mouth of the Sanpoil River.

The other bidders on the project were Oregon Ironworks Inc., which has a dock facility in Vancouver, Wash., and US Fab LLC in Portland.

Grant will speed rail station project

Restoration of the King Street Station for rail travel in Seattle will move to its next phase under a $16.7 million grant from federal high-speed rail funds, the WSDOT said last week.

The station served 850,000 rider trips on the Amtrak Cascades line last year, a 10 percent increase from 2009.

Work will include restoration of the main hall and upgrades to utility systems. In addition, money will be spent to shore up the building and its clock tower to better withstand earthquakes.

The station first opened in 1906 with white marble walls, decorative lighting and period ornamentation. Modernization a half-century ago led to removal of parts of the old interior. Those features are being restored.

In the past three years, nearly $30 million in local, state and federal funding has gone into the earlier phase of the project, which will turn the station into a more energy-efficient building.

The current round of work should take two years, according to the WSDOT.

Cars must move for leaf pickup

Leaf pickup in Browne’s Addition on Tuesday and Wednesday will require residents to move vehicles off some streets starting at 9 a.m. both days. Failure to comply could result in having vehicles towed.

Work will be on north-south streets on Tuesday, followed by clearing of east-west avenues on Wednesday. Vehicles must be moved off the streets where work is scheduled that day.

Transportation plans queue up projects

The Spokane Regional Transportation Council is putting the final touches on its 2012 Transportation Improvement Program, which lists projects slated for future federal funding.

They range from smaller trail construction to massive projects like the North Spokane Corridor.

Some of the projects have been under discussion for years, such as replacement of the Post Street Bridge in downtown Spokane with a pedestrian bridge rigged for utility lines.

The plan falls under goals of the Spokane Regional Metropolitan Transportation Plan, which is up for renewal in 2012. The long-range plan runs through 2035.

Simultaneous 30-day public comment periods run through Dec. 18 on the Transportation Improvement Program and the master transportation plan.

To review the documents, go to

Comments may be made online at or by mail to SRTC, 221 W. First Ave., Suite 310, Spokane, WA 99201.