"Despite ruling, Chinook still speeds"

"Washington State Ferries director Paul Green’s response to a King County Superior Court judge’s ruling to slow the passenger-only Chinook ferry between Bremerton and Seattle was swift and critical.Green particularly concentrated on Judge Glenna Hall’s ruling requiring an environmental assessment of the Chinook.“The evidence before the court clearly showed that no effort had been made to rigorously study the possible vulnerability of Rich Passage to wake wash until long after the vessel had been proposed, funded, designed and deployed,” Hall said in her ruling earlier this week.Green replied, “This is unprecedented in the maritime industry. We cannot find another example of a vessel operating in this country that has been required to do an environmental assessment before going into service. This ruling, if applied broadly, could severely impact our flexibility to operate in Puget Sound. We had no reason to believe, based on previous introduction of new service, that SEPA (State Environmental Policy Act) was applicable.”Hall’s ruling requires the Chinook and any other fast ferries to comply with SEPA before resuming high-speed crossings.“We are not protesting the use of high-speed ferries. We simply want the ferry system to follow the existing state laws and design vessels that don’t ruin the environment,” said Steve Berman, a Seattle attorney who represented the beachfront property owners in the South Kitsap area and Bainbridge Island in a court hearing on their lawsuit against the ferry system. “We are pleased that the court recognized that the environment takes priority over the convenience of people getting to work faster.”Hall’s ruling slows the Chinook from 34 knots (approximately 39 mph) to 12 knots (17 mph) on slightly more than a third of its route.The slowdown “will add a full 15 minutes to every passage,” said Patricia Patterson, ferry system spokeswoman.The slowdown must occur from Clam Bay near Manchester, just prior to the entrance to Rich Passage, all the way to the Bremerton ferry dock.A revised sailing schedule is expected next week. The Chinook will lose three trips a day, officials said.“It won’t happen Monday. We expect it to be sometime later next week,” Patterson said.The slowdown awaits the posting of a bond by the coalition of waterfront homeowners who brought the suit against the ferry system.“We’re asking for $2 million, but the amount has yet to be determined,” Patterson said.She said the bond is in place in case the ferry system wins at the trial slated to begin next summer. “It’s for damages and money lost during the slowdown,” she said."

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