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It's official: fast ferries to return May 1

"Scientists studying Rich Passage shorelines gave the Washington State Ferries the go-ahead last week to re-fire the Snohomish. The Snohomish will leave Bremerton at 4:10 a.m. Saturday, sailing roughly 40-minute runs each way between Seattle and Bremerton. But the Snohomish's reinstatement does not necessarily mean the ferries have no affect on shoreline, and scientists will continue to study wake impacts on the beach. No conclusions have been drawn and none have been offered, said ferry spokeswoman Patricia Patterson. We still have a long way to go.WSF plans to re-implement fast foot ferry service in phases.One of the current slow-running passenger-only ferries will be discontinued Thursday to make way for fast-ferry service. Auto ferries will continue to run between Seattle and Bremerton, and WSF is adding an extra run in the morning.The Snohomish will make most of its run at top speed, but will slow down through a two-mile stretch of Rich Passage where scientists are still collecting samples. Ferry service director Paul Green said the ferry service will continue the slow-down until summer.The Chinook will join the Snohomish May 8, but the Chinook will run at top speed for the entire Bremerton-Seattle trip.Ferry officials agreed to postpone fast ferry service March 31 so scientists could gather shoreline samples and study the the impact of wakes on the beaches. Property owners maintain churning wakes from the ferries eroded the beaches and killed sealife.Scientists installed monitoring devices on the shoreline to measure wake impact. As ferries speed up, scientists will keep track of the wake impact on the beach.The ferry service installed interceptors onto the sterns of the Snohomish and the Chinook to provide lift and slim wakes coming off the boats.The two boats were originally slowed due to a lawsuit brought by beachfront property owners in 1999. But the injunction that kept Chinook and Snohomish from running at top speed was lifted in March.The issue won't be resolved until the case goes to trial later this year."

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