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Guemes ferry project passed over for federal grant

January 9, 2019
Skagit County is considering a ferry that could hold 28 or 32 cars to service Guemes Island.

MOUNT VERNON — Though Skagit County failed to get a $10 million federal infrastructure grant for an all-electric replacement for the Guemes Island Ferry, Public Works Director Dan Berentson said the ferry project is still on track.

“When you apply for federal money, sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t,” Berentson said, adding the project was not dependent on this specific grant.

The county has been working on replacing the aging Guemes Island Ferry with an all-electric vessel for about three years. Construction costs are estimated at $21.8 million.

Thirty-eight projects from the state applied for U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD grants, but only two were awarded in the state, Berentson said.

The ferry project was ranked among the most qualified applications, he said, making him optimistic the county may secure federal funding in the future.

“I think we have good momentum,” Berentson said. “I’m really confident that, in the next two or three years, we’ll move forward with construction.”

Berentson said the county’s naval design firm, Glosten, is continuing work on the project in an attempt to make it more attractive to other grants going forward.

The state County Road Administration Board awarded a $7.5 million grant to the project in April, but the Legislature needs to approve that grant later this year.

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