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Judge puts breaks on Chinook

"King County Superior Court Judge Glenna Hall has made some Kitsap County waterfront property holders happy.Hall granted an injunction Tuesday morning slowing down (temporarily, at least) the high-speed, passenger-only ferry Chinook. A trial on the Chinook’s speed is set for next summer.A coalition of waterfront property owners claimed the Chinook’s 34 miles-per-hour passages across Puget Sound were damaging their beaches and bulkheads in Rich Passage and destroying the environment.“I have not had an opportunity to study the order. But it’s very encouraging that the judge recognized environmental impact taking place. The decision is good for the environment,” said one of the plaintiffs, Vic Kucera of Seattle, who owns waterfront property in Kitsap County.Kucera said a biologist representing the property owners pointed out specific environmental damage during the seven-day injunction hearing, which concluded last Tuesday.“The biologist showed that flora and shellfish were being impacted. That was a very strong point,” Kucera said.Pat Patterson, a spokeswoman for Washington State Ferries, wouldn’t comment Monday on Hall’s decision and whether the ferry system would appeal the ruling.Hall could not be reached for comment on what specifically led to her decision.The Chinook, specially purchased for the Bremerton-to-Seattle route, transported commuters to Seattle in 30 minutes instead of the 50 to 60 minutes the older passenger-only and auto ferries require.“We are disappointed that we can’t find a better solution. They (fast ferries) are a legitimate link in a countywide transportation system,” Kitsap County Commissioner Tim Botkin said.“It seems ludicrous to me that a handful of property owners is holding an entire county hostage,” said Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton."

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