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August 2013

Welcome to our August 2013 newsletter. Keith Metcalf is on temporary assignment in Olympia with Mike Frucci as acting Regional Administrator.
This month we talk about the Christening and inaugural sailing of our new vessel, the Sanpoil, on the Keller ferry route, a project to count bicyclists and walking commuters and more.

As always, if you have any questions on items in this newsletter, or other transportation issues, please let me know. Give me a call at (509) 324-6010 or drop me an e-mail at:

Mike Frucci
Acting Regional Administrator
WSDOT Eastern Region


Sanpoil Christening and Inaugural sailing

On Wednesday, August 14th we had well over 300 people join us on the shores of the Columbia River for the Christening and Inaugural Sailing of the M/V (Motor Vessel) Sanpoil, our new ferry vessel.

Just prior to the event, two US Navy A-6 Prowler fighter jets flew over the site and the 560th US Air Force Band Brass Quintet played a variety of tunes on the vessel deck.

The crowd then gathered on the deck as Sanpoil Tribal Elder Glen James offered a prayer and blessing for the boat, Colville Business Council member Ben Marchand performed Tribal Honor Songs, and Tribal Chair Michael Finley addressed the group about the unique government to government partnership that enabled construction of the vessel. Secretary of Transportation, Lynn Peterson, was also on hand to officially accept the vessel from the contractor, Foss Maritime.

Community and Tribal Elder, Jeanne Jerred was the “Sponsor” of the Sanpoil. The “sponsor” of a vessel holds a very important role. Maritime traditions hold that the vessel sponsor is someone who is instrumental in the life of the vessel. Ms. Jerred was an early supporter of the need for a new ferry. She lives in the Keller area and was on the vessel naming committee. According to tradition, after a new vessel is launched and Christened, it becomes a living entity. Over its sailing life this ferry may have many individual operators and crew members, but the sponsor is the one and only person who will continually be part of the crew and her name will live on with this boat. In that role, the sponsor bestows luck and divine protection for the ship, the sponsor imparts personality to the ship, and advocates for its continued service and well-being. Of course, the first official duty of the Sponsor is to Christen the vessel by smashing the bottle of champagne on the hull. In this case, we used a special non-alcoholic mixture in a bottle made especially for events like this.

Following the Christening, the boat made three Inaugural Sailing voyages carrying passengers on a tour of the river crossing. After those trips were completed, the ferry entered regular service and began carrying vehicles across the lake.

As with any new vessel, there are always a few “shakedown” issues that need to be addressed. Although the Sanpoil is a new boat, the terminal ramps on the shores are the same ramps used by the old Martha S. The ramps were refurbished with new decking, flotation, and electrical systems. One issue that our engineers are still refining is the shore ramp and terminal ramp connection angle. Because the Sanpoil hull rides higher in the water, some vehicles with long overhangs have been having some difficulty loading and unloading. Until the vessel and terminal went into service, we could only estimate the clearances. Now that there is regular use, our engineers can work out the appropriate angles. We appreciate everyone’s patience and should have adjustments in place shortly.


Move over and slow down

Our high-speed highways can be a tough place for emergency crews and our maintenance crews to work. Here in Washington state we have a law that helps protect people working alongside fast moving vehicles - the Move over or Slow Down law, RCW 46.61.212.

Here’s how the law works:
The original Move Over Law was passed in 2007 in an effort to protect emergency workers who were stopped on the highways conducting their business. On a highway having four or more lanes, at least two of which are intended for traffic proceeding in the same direction as the approaching vehicle, proceed with caution and, if reasonable, yield the right-of-way by making a lane change or moving away from the lane or shoulder occupied by the stationary authorized emergency vehicle or police vehicle. On a two-lane highway, reduce your speed and move toward the center line to provide extra room for the vehicles on the shoulder, while also keeping alert for oncoming traffic.

Since 2007, the number of collisions involving emergency vehicles and workers has increased instead of decreasing. In 2010, legislation was submitted and passed to amend the old law to include an “Emergency Zone.” The Emergency Zone Law was passed in the aftermath of growing numbers of police, emergency technicians, tow operators, and Department of Transportation workers being struck during routine traffic stops, collision/accident response, impounding/ towing vehicles, and highway construction projects.

An Emergency Zone is defined as the adjacent lanes of the roadway 200 feet (10 car lengths) before and after a stationary emergency vehicle with flashing lights, a tow truck using red lights, an emergency assistance vehicle using warning lights, or any police vehicle using emergency lights. The fine doubles for vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit in an Emergency Zone.

Please keep in mind that highway workers also perform many tasks along the highways and the same consideration increases the safety of their work area as well.

Emergency workers, our maintenance crews, and their families will appreciate it and thank you for watching out for them.


Annual bicycle and pedestrian count is Oct. 1 - 3

Each year WSDOT joins with others in the community to get an accurate count of alternative modes of transportation. Here are the details of the upcoming 2013 effort:

Nearly 60,000 bicyclists and pedestrians were counted by volunteers across Washington during a three-day survey in 2012. About 400 volunteers will be needed again this fall to count the number of people who ride bike, or walk to their destinations.

According to Secretary of Transportation, Lynn Peterson, counting bicyclists and pedestrians helps us more accurately measure demand, gauge the results of our investments and plan for future improvement projects. We couldn’t document the number of people walking and biking without the help of many volunteers from across the state.

For this sixth annual survey, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Cascade Bicycle Club are enlisting volunteers and organizations like FeetFirst and the Bicycle Alliance of Washington to help count the number of people bicycling and walking on paths, bike lanes, sidewalks, and other facilities Tuesday, Oct. 1, through Thursday, Oct. 3. Counts will be taken in a least 38 cities throughout the state.
Those interested in helping can learn more by visiting WSDOT’s website, or by contacting Cascade Bicycle Club at or calling 206-861-9890.

WSDOT’s count is part of the National Documentation Project, an annual bicycle and pedestrian count and survey effort that is sponsored by the Institute of Transportation Engineers Pedestrian and Bicycle Council. The count will also help measure WSDOT’s progress toward the goal of increasing bicycling and walking while reducing the number of vehicle miles driven.

WSDOT and the Cascade Bicycle Club are asking volunteers from across the state to perform the counts in selected cities: Bainbridge Island, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bothell, Bremerton, Burien, Ellensburg, Everett, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kelso, Kent, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Lakewood, Longview, Mercer Island, Milton, Mountlake Terrace, Oak Harbor, Olympia, Orting, Parkland, Puyallup, Redmond, Renton, Richland, Seattle, Shoreline, Spokane Valley, Spokane, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, Vancouver, Vashon Island, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima.
We hope that many of you can join in. Just go to:


A happy customer

We always like to hear from happy customers. Here’s a note that came in recently:

"Hi. I just wanted to comment on a couple of things. I live off of State Hwy 291 and am in the middle of the repaving work from Division to Milepost 11 and want to state that this has gone very well. I have been impressed by the quality of the work overall and how little disruption it has made for those of us who use this route regularly. Thank you.
I also want to thank you for maintaining the rest stops on so many of the highways in the state. I use them regularly and am pleased that they are always tidy, well lit and well supplied and I feel safe stopping there even when traveling alone.

I feel that DOT is making good use of the tax resources and thank you all for your diligence.

Sincerely, Beverly."

Thanks Beverly. We’ll pass this note on to the engineering team in Bob Hilmes’ project engineering office and to our attendants that keep those busy rest areas clean.