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Rep. Woods: Foot ferries not dead yet

When only a half-dozen people showed up for Rep. Beverly Woods’ Silverdale Town Meeting Saturday afternoon, she looked a little disappointed.

“Well,” she said philosophically, “looks like we’re having a small meeting instead.”

The meeting was held Nov. 8 at the Silverdale Community Center. Despite the small attendance, Woods, R-Poulsbo, gave a full update on what’s been happening (and will happen) in the State Legislature, and took questions from the audience afterwards.

“At the beginning of the (2003 House) session,” she said, “it was recommended Washington State Ferries no longer run passenger-only ships. There was money available — but no will among legislators to use it.

“My goal was to keep the (foot ferries) alive. If the state wouldn’t do it, then perhaps Kitsap Transit could.”

Kitsap Transit Proposition 1 on the Nov. 4 general election ballot was buried under a landslide of opposition. Prop 1 called for three-tenths of a percent on local sales and use taxes and three-tenth of a percent on the value of motor vehicles to create and operate a foot ferry.

“Now that (Prop. 1) has failed, I’d like to introduce another bill that does away with the old ‘Ten-mile’ rule.” She explained that the rule kept all other ships away from auto/passenger ferry docks. “If the bill passes, foot ferries would be able to use the same docks as the big ferries. It would save building new docks and make foot-ferries more feasible.”

She plans on introducing this in the 2004 session. She’d like to see the foot ferry revived whether run by the state or private company.

She also favors auto/passenger ferries if the wake problem can be solved. Property owners on the waterfront in narrow Rich Passage successfully sued to slow the big boats down due to wake damage to waterfronts.

“I’ve been told there are two boats (we could acquire) that create less wake. We could go back to where we were in 1973, when we had 45-50-minute crossings.”

Currently, the ferries slowing in Rich Passage make the trip an hour long, Bremerton to Seattle. Bainbridge Island ferries are closer to Seattle and have a half-hour run.

She said the Bremerton/Seattle boats would be smaller.

“There’d be less autos each run, but more runs” between the west and east side of Puget Sound. She said she’s still “trying to get people out of their cars.”

Silverdale resident Bill Looney said, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Someone always has to pay for it.”

Mooney prefers ferry-user fees, so that those who use the ferries pay for them.

Woods said it would be more fair if auto ferries were supported 80 percent by users. It’s currently about 15 percent. Bainbridge Island ferries are 100 percent user supported, she said.

Woods had other items on her docket:

l Preparations and possible delays on the Hood Canal Bridge upgrade. She said a possible American Indian graveyard has been unearthed in the area of construction.

l It may be another year before legislators can get back into the Capitol Building in Olympia, damaged in the Nisqually earthquake almost three years ago.

l Woods said regional bus agencies should re-establish routes between Bremerton and Tacoma, Tacoma and Seattle.

Woods said one idea to raise funds is to do away with the presidential primary election in 2004 and put the money aside for other needs. She said in lieu of the primary, the state can rely on party caucuses.

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