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June 2012

From the Regional Administrator
Keith Metcalf 

Welcome to our June 2012 newsletter. This month we announce the name selected for the new Keller Ferry vessel, celebrate receiving another TIGER Grant, and have a new two mile section of the North Spokane Corridor open to traffic.

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 .

Keith Metcalf
Regional Administrator


New Keller ferry vessel is named

There’s another new ferry under construction for the state of Washington and it’s not one of the big ones that plies the salty waters of Puget Sound. This one is a lot smaller but still fills a very important role. This new ferry boat will serve the Keller route across the Columbia River in Eastern Washington, and until this month, the new vessel was without a name.

On Tuesday, June 19th, the Washington State Transportation Commission officially named the new vessel, “Sanpoil.”

“Sanpoil” is the anglicized form of the name that is applied to the original and current native
residents of this area along the Columbia River. The name was chosen to honor the people who have lived on this land and crossed this river for thousands of years.

The Washington State Transportation Commission approves names for state operated vessels. WSDOT used a public process to gather a suggested name to be submitted to the Commission. During March 2012, the Department hosted an interactive website where citizens submitted vessel name suggestions with a supportive statement. We created an information card, distributed to users of the route by the ferry deckhands, announcing the naming process, guidelines, and the opportunity to submit suggestions. We produced a special version of our monthly electronic email newsletter and sent out a media release announcing the naming process, guidelines and submittal procedure to print, broadcast, and web contacts within the WSDOT Eastern Region.

As a result, over 500 suggestions were received. Out of those, about 200 were within the parameters of the Commission Vessel Naming Guidelines with many duplicate suggestions. We sent those out to our committee of Tribal, Community, and Department representatives who reviewed the list. At a meeting in late May, the committee met and reached consensus on a name to submit to the Transportation Commission which was subsequently approved.

The Keller Ferry crossing site was one of the most desirable in the whole territory for salmon fishing, and each year a huge trap was built across the Sanpoil River. It is estimated that as many as 400 people gathered in this area at the height of the salmon season.

Several components of the new boat are under construction in the Foss Maritime Rainier, Oregon shipyard. Later this fall, the parts will be trucked to Grand Coulee and assembled. The boat is expected to be launched in July 2013. It will replace the 64 year old Martha S.

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Another TIGER Grant for the NSC

We are pleased to announce that we were selected to receive $10 million in the federal Transportation Investments Generating Economic Growth (TIGER) grant program. Senators P atty Murray and Maria Cantwell, plus Representative Cathy McMorris-Rodgers issued a joint statement on Tuesday, June 19th with the news.

The project submitted is the realignment of about 7.5 miles of BNSF Railway mainline and spur tracks, an additional mile of pedestrian/bike trail, and several bridge structures. The work will be the first construction of the NSC corridor south of Francis Ave. There was $500 million available nationwide to be awarded to projects in this round.

In 2010, the NSC was awarded a $35 million TIGER Grant. That grant funded the Francis to Farwell Southbound Lanes project and the Parksmith Interchange job. The two projects are currently under way and will open later this year.

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NSC segment opens

As we previewed last month, the newest segment of the North Spokane Corridor opened to traffic. On June 13th, Secretary of Transportation, Paula Hammond and others snipped the red ribbon with a pair of giant scissors. Moments later, the first vehicles took to the new pavement. These were classic pedal cars “driven” by children invited by the Associated General Contractors to have the honors. A few minutes later, the lanes were opened up to powered vehicles and the northern two miles of fully completed freeway was open to traffic.

This section, US 2 to Wandermere, is two miles long and provides a free-flow, high-speed connection to existing US 395. Drivers can now enter the NSC from US 395 via a direct connection, traveling at freeway speeds. This means we will now have traffic flowing on the northern five miles of the 10-mile NSC.