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In Bremerton, Murray Announces Win for Ferries

Aug 01 2005

Additional Funding Will Create Jobs and Invest in Washington's Ferry System

(Bremerton, WA) – Today in Bremerton, U.S. Senator Patty Murray joined with local leaders to announce that she has doubled the federal funding for ferry systems nationwide over the next five years. The increased funding at the federal level will mean more dollars will be available for states like Washington over the next five years. The funding will be used for capital investments including new vessels, new terminals, and upgraded facilities. The victory follows Murray's two-year effort to get the federal government to invest in ferries as it invests in other modes of transportation.



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"This new law makes the federal government a stronger partner in ferry systems from coast to coast," Murray said.



With ferry use expected to grow in Washington state by 15 percent in the next 6 years, Murray said the funding is critical to prevent gridlock and boost productivity.



"An overcrowded ferry system is just like an overcrowded highway system. It creates gridlock, delays, and hurts our productivity. This new investment keeps ferry commuters from being forced onto already overcrowded roads and bridges," Murray said. "It ensures that communities that depend on ferries to get people to work continue to be productive.



Murray also noted that the funding will create jobs.



"Boat-building is a growing industry in our state, and we hope this new law will help create new manufacturing jobs, jobs in boat yards, jobs at ferry terminals, and jobs staffing the boats themselves," Murray said. "We know that every dollar spent on transportation is a dollar spent on job creation and economic growth, and that is certainly true when it comes to ferries."



Murray, the ranking member of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, boosted federal investment in ferry transportation during the reauthorization of the five-year surface transportation bill, known as SAFETEA-LU. The law increases annual ferry funding over fiscal years 2005-2009 from $38 million in fiscal year 2005 to $67 million in fiscal year 2009.



Murray made the announcement at the Bremerton Ferry Terminal, where she was joined by state Transportation Secretary Doug McDonald, Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman, Kitsap Transit Director Dick Hayes, Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen, and others.



State Transportation Secretary Doug McDonald said, "Across the Sound, many of our terminals need major work, and that's one of the major reasons this money is so welcome . . . [t]he older boats must be replaced, and that's an important piece of modernizing the fleet so it can serve all these communities, and this money will be very helpful for that."



"We are just beginning to understand the importance of water transportation in this region," Mayor Cary Bozeman said. "And I think what we have today is not anywhere near what we could have and the number of people we could be transporting, and I think Senator Murray sees that. I think she's the first person of high elected office in our community that's ever had that vision."



Kitsap Transit Director Dick Hayes said, "We're trying to keep the faith with all parts of Senator Murray's vision. We look forward to working with the Senator and her staff as we go forward. I think we're going to get on the same page with all the efforts and all the investment in faster service and have a very good decade from this point forward."



Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen said, "We are just thrilled with this new infusion of money and this recognition of how important the ferry system is to Kitsap County. To have representation that understands our way of life and our quality of life and the importance of the ferry system, not only to everyone who lives here, but for moving freight and goods through Kitsap County up to the Olympic Peninsula…we really, really appreciate it."



Earlier in the day, Murray attended a similar announcement at Seattle's Colman Dock where she was joined by Rep. Rick Larsen. Details



Senator Murray's remarks in Bremerton follow:



We are all here today to announce a victory for ferry riders, for jobs, and for Washington's economy. Here in our state, we are lucky to have a world-class ferry system, and now – finally the federal government will fund it like a priority.



Just a few days ago, Congress passed my proposal to dramatically increase ferry funding. The President is expected to sign that bill into law, and that will be great news for commuters, for manufacturing jobs, for productivity, and for our economy because we will now have more money to use in the coming years to fund our state's ferry system. That will mean new ferries and new jobs.



A Multi-Year Effort



I began this effort two years ago, when I saw that our ferry system needed more support to meet the growing demand. As I looked into this, I learned that while the federal government supported investments in roads, highways and bridges, it didn't quite know what to make of ferries.



Part of the challenge was getting people in our government to understand that for many Americans a ferry is a critical transportation link – connecting them to work, home and recreation. As I started talking to other Senators, I found that many of them who were not from ferry-dependent states didn't understand the critical needs of ferry systems across the country.



They didn’t know that ferries affect at least 34 states, provide 113 million passenger trips per year, support good manufacturing jobs in our boat building industry, and help relieve congestion and pollution on our roads and highways. So I had my work cut out for me.



But, working with Congressman Larsen in the House, and a bipartisan group of senators in the Senate, we wrote a bill we called the Ferry Transportation Enhancement Act. Last year, our bill passed Congress, but never made it to the White House. But we didn't stop there. We used that momentum and that awareness to keep fighting for ferries. As a result, the transportation bill the President will sign includes a new investment in America's ferries.



Our Ferries are Critical to Our State

All of us here today recognize that our ferry system is critical to our region and our state. Ever since the “Mosquito Fleet” of the early 1900s, the ferry system of the Puget Sound has been an important means of transportation and part of our cultural identity. And we have a lot to be proud of. Today, Washington State Ferries and private companies operate the largest passenger ferry system in the country. Our passenger ferries carry 26 million passengers and 11 million vehicles every year. By 2009, that number is projected to grow to 30 million passengers and 13 million vehicles.



Increased Funding Will Create Jobs & Boost Our Economy & Productivity



Here in our region, we know that a viable ferry system supports economic growth and creates jobs throughout the Puget Sound region, and that’s why today is a day to celebrate. This new law makes the federal government a stronger partner in ferry systems from coast to coast. Over the next five years nationwide, ferry systems will get $285 million in federal money. We will double annual ferry support from $38 million this year to $67 million five years from now. That will do three things.



First, it will help us meet the growing demand. Nationwide, ferry traffic is expected to increase by nearly 14 percent over the next 6 years. In our state, it is expected to grow by more than 15 percent. This money will help us make capital investments – that means new vessels, new terminals, and upgraded facilities. This money can also be used to help the State of Washington keep our ferries in good working order.



Second, this investment will create jobs. Boat-building is a growing industry in our state, and we hope this new law will help create new manufacturing jobs, jobs in boat yards, jobs at ferry terminals, and jobs staffing the boats themselves. We know that every dollar spent on transportation is a dollar spent on job creation and economic growth, and that is certainly true when it comes to ferries.



Third, this investment will help our economy and our productivity. An overcrowded ferry system is just like an overcrowded highway system. It creates gridlock, delays, and hurts our productivity. This new investment keeps ferry commuters from being forced onto already overcrowded roads and bridges. And it ensures that communities that depend on ferries to get people to work continue to be productive.



Improvements at Southworth, Bainbridge and Mukilteo Ferry Terminals



I am also happy to announce that I was able to secure $5 million for the Southworth Ferry Terminal within the highway reauthorization bill. That funding partnered with Jay Inslee's $2.5 million for the Bainbridge Island Terminal and Congressman Larsen's nearly $5 million for the Mukilteo Ferry Terminal brings home more than $12 million for our ferry terminals.



A Partnership



I want to thank all of the people who have helped us reach this day including Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald and Washington State Ferries particularly Mike Anderson. I also want to thank Mayor Cary Bozeman, Dick Hayes and Kitsap Transit, Kitsap County Commission, the Bremerton City Council, Port of Bremerton, David Porter and the Kitsap EDC, and all the community members and ferry supporters who are with us.