Last week, I wrote a story about how the Steilacoom II-class ferry that the state wants to have built might evenutally end up on the Point Defiance-Talequah run. That would be a case of the 50-car vessel replacing the 48-car Rhododendron.
Then I got this e-mail I figured I should share with everyone. I’m not a regular ferry rider to Vashon, so I don’t know the ins and outs of the ferries. Read on:
I want to comment on the long term political choice to build this Clone. This vessel is not acceptable to Vashon as a replacement for the Rhododendron on the Tahlequah- Point Defiance route. It provides no more capacity and is in fact more limited than the Rhody in carrying the commercial traffic that already clogs the route. It also has less freeboard which will entail greater restrictions during our low tides. More and more people will not be able to get their horse trailers, utility trailers, camping trailers, motor homes, etc thru the route.
With the Rhody already under capacity for the demands of the route this will be a further detriment to the ties between Tacoma and Vashon. The only place the "Clone" could possibly serve is as a shuttle between Vashon and Southworth. Even then the "Clone" has greater restrictions than the Hiyu for commercial traffic.
The "Clone" is also too slow to match speeds with any but the oldest vessels in the WSF fleet. In fact there are only four such vessels and they are 50-60 years old. By the time the "Clone" is released from Port Townsend most of these will be in there last years of service. That is predicated on the "Clone" not sinking in Admiralty Inlet.
I have told many officials that if they must waste the money on building this political football they should plan to give it to Pierce County where it could be fully utilized and where it was designed to be used.
A better use of part of the money would be to fix one of the Steel Electric boats and use it until the special design and built vessels are in place. Then they can send all the Steel Electrics to the ferry boar heaven.
Vashon Resident and ferry user for over 50 years