Lack of funding for ferry worries Anacortes

Lack of funding for ferry worries Anacortes
The Washington State ferry Elwha passes Flat Point on Lopez Island. (Compdude123, Wikimedia Commons)

ANACORTES, Wash. — The Elwha ferry will be retired from service if the state Legislature cuts funding for it, a move that would impact the Anacortes to Sidney, British Columbia, route and further strain the Washington State Ferries system.

The Skagit Valley Herald reports Gov. Jay Inslee's supplemental budget does not include funding to operate the 52-year-old Elwha, which is out of service and in need of repairs, said State Ferries spokesperson Ian Sterling.

If the Elwha is retired, the only ferry certified to make the international crossing would be the Chelan.

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Losing the Elwha would leave State Ferries with 21 boats in its fleet.

Sterling said while the ferry system needs 19 to operate its summer routes, at least two ferries are out for maintenance at any given time, and breakdowns and incidents such as crab pot entanglements take boats out of service.

He said the state has funded a new vessel -- a hybrid-electric ferry -- but it is not expected to be in service until 2023.