Washington state near bottom for ferry money
Washington state, which has the nation's largest ferry system, got only one grant for $750,000 in a new round of federal stimulus money for ferries.
Seattle Times staff reporter
When it comes to federal stimulus money for ferries, Washington state appears to have missed the boat.
Angry and confused state and congressional leaders say they're puzzled why Washington, operator of the nation's largest ferry system, was virtually shut out of $60 million in federal allocations announced Tuesday.
"I am extremely disappointed, and I am asking questions," said a visibly upset Gov. Chris Gregoire. "We have the largest ferry fleet in America, and we didn't get anything. I don't get it."
The sole project in Washington state among the allocations announced by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is $750,000 to build a new terminal for the Guemes Island ferry, which is operated by Skagit County.
The state's request for $26 million to replace the Anacortes ferry terminal was snubbed, as was a request for $9 million to refurbish the ferry Hyak, now serving the Seattle-Bremerton route.
Michigan received the most ferry money, with two grants worth $8.3 million. Maine was next, with two grants totaling $6.8 million, and New York received $6.5 million in two grants.
The announcement was a jolt to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who had played a key role in getting money for ferry projects included in the nearly $800 billion federal stimulus package passed earlier this year. Murray called LaHood Tuesday, asking him to re-examine the process through which the allocations were made.
"She expressed her concern and her disappointment," said Murray spokeswoman Alex Glass. "He immediately agreed to go back and look at the process and the senator is going to hold his feet to the fire on it."
Glass noted that LaHood was just in Washington state last week, and Murray believed he understood the critical needs of the state's ferry system.
In February, after $60 million for ferry-related projects was written into the federal stimulus bill, Washington state officials were hopeful a good chunk of the money would come this way, noting the scale of Washington's ferry service.
"I think we could get between a third and a half of it," David Moseley, the state's ferry-system director, said at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Jack Broom: 206-464-2222 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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