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June 2013

Welcome to our June 2013 newsletter. Keith Metcalf is on temporary assignment in Olympia with Mike Frucci as acting Regional Administrator.

This month we talk about an upcoming service disruption on the Keller Ferry route, plus information on some rail work.

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: fruccim@wsdot.wa.gov .

Mike Frucci
Acting Regional Administrator
WSDOT Eastern Region

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Keller Ferry route disruption and vessel update

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.

We realize this will be an inconvenience to drivers during the busy summer season. 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 hull hull and superstructure has been bead blasted and the car deck, non-skid surface has been installed. Now, vessel electrical 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. 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. 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. 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.

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Eastern Region crews fix up rail crossings

Eastern Region Maintenance crews have been assisting the WSDOT Freight Rail Division by handling repairs on a number of railroad crossings on the state-owned Palouse/Coulee City Railroad. With available equipment and their expertise in asphalt removal and paving, the crews are able to smooth out damaged approaches to the tracks quickly. The rail service operator will make needed repairs to the railroad crossing planks and rail. Around 80 crossings will be repaired as funding becomes available.