Al Gilson, Communications Manager
WSDOT Eastern Region
2714 N. Mayfair
Spokane, WA 99207
WILBUR-Service on the Keller Ferry route across the Columbia River in eastern Washington will be suspended for about 5 ½ weeks beginning on Monday July 8 for terminal construction. During this service disruption, drivers will need to use alternate routes, such as SR 25, to reach their destinations. Travelers can get Keller Ferry service information by calling 5-1-1 or accessing the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) website.
The replacement vessel now under construction requires that the existing terminals be fit to the new boat. Because the new vessel hull is wider and sits higher in the water, parts of the terminals and ramps need to be rebuilt. This work requires the terminals and existing ferry to be taken out of service. Ferry service will resume with the new vessel on Wednesday, August 14.
“I realize this will be an inconvenience to drivers during the busy summer season,” said Mike Frucci, Acting Eastern Region Administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation. “The work needed to be scheduled after the school year ended, and coordinated with the new vessel construction and summer river levels.”
The terminal contractor, Max J. Kuney Company of Spokane, has already been acquiring materials and assembling some of the components in preparation for the work. The job includes ramp and electrical modifications to accommodate the new vessel as well as flotation improvements and equipment that move the terminals up and down the ramps to adapt to changes in the water levels. The ferry route is located on the Columbia River (also known as Lake Roosevelt) and the river elevation can vary as much as 80 feet during the year.
Assembly work continues on our new Keller ferry route vessel, the M/V (Motor Vessel) Sanpoil. The contractor, Foss Maritime, reports the pilot house is in place plus hull bead blasting and sealing is underway. In addition, vessel electrical, hydraulic, and drive systems are getting installed. The vessel will be put in the water in mid-July for testing and crew training.
A special Christening ceremony and Tribal blessing for the new vessel is scheduled for August 14th. Following the ceremony, the Sanpoil’s inaugural sailing will take place and the boat will enter regular service.
“We are delighted at the progress of construction and it has been exciting to watch this vessel grow from just lines drawn on paper to the graceful lines of the hull and superstructure,” said Mike Frucci. “It is also a pleasure to have the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation on board as our partners in the construction of the new ferry,” he said. “Without their help, this project would still be on the drawing board.”
“The current vessel, M/V Martha S., has performed well beyond our expectations for over six decades,” said Frucci. “We look forward to the same results from the Sanpoil.” The final run for the Martha S., will be Sunday evening, July 7 after serving on the route for 64 years and 10 months.