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Jayapal, Larsen, Smith, DelBene, and Kilmer Applaud $4.8 Million to Refurbish Washington State Ferries

Funding Comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) awarded $4.8 million to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to refurbish aging passenger spaces on six Issaquah-class ferries. The funding comes from FTA’s Urbanized Area Passenger Ferry grant program, which was reauthorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

WSDOT plans to use the federal funding to help address passenger spaces on the M/V Cathlamet, M/V Chelan, M/V Issaquah, M/V Kitsap, M/V Kittitas, and M/V Sealth, which were built between 1979 and 1982. WSDOT estimates the project will extend the useful life of the aging vessels for another five to ten years.

What WA Leaders and Stakeholders are Saying

Members of Washington’s House delegation, led by Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), the lead Democrat on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and WSDOT Secretary Roger Millar celebrated FTA’s announcement.

“Ferries are critical to our state’s infrastructure and play a major role in our economy,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07). “Thanks to the Infrastructure Law, this funding will help to keep our ferries running safely and improve service reliability. I am proud that the federal government is investing in connecting our communities and enhancing regional transportation mobility.”

“Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, WSDOT can upgrade its aging ferry fleet to ensure passengers can safely travel to and from Snohomish County, Whidbey Island, Skagit County, the San Juan Islands and communities across Northwest Washington,” said Larsen. “In Washington state, ferries are a necessity, not a luxury. I will continue to be a champion of increased federal funding for Washington’s ferry systems so people in our state can have cleaner, greener, more accessible, more reliable and more frequent service.”

“WSDOT sincerely appreciates the work of Washington’s Congressional delegation in helping secure $4.8 million in federal funding to refurbish passenger spaces on six Washington State Ferries Issaquah class vessels,” said Millar. “This federal support will extend the useful life of these aging forty-year-old vessels for another five to ten years and allow them to remain in service while new vessels are built. Without this critical funding for refurbishment, these vessels would continue to deteriorate and service disruptions would become even more commonplace preventing emergency travel and interfering with riders’ ability to access home, work, school and other quality of life necessities.”

“Many people in Washington ride ferries to get to school, work, and to get around, but there have been a growing number of service disruptions because many of our ferries need repair. That’s why Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law: to modernize and upgrade our transportation and infrastructure. The funding announced today means that Washington State Ferries will be able to refurbish several ferries to make sure they run smoothly for years to come,” said Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09). “I’m excited to see these dollars come to our region as part of President Biden’s agenda to invest in America.”

“Ferries play a critical role in our state’s transportation network, helping Washingtonians commute to work, visit loved ones, and explore our beautiful state,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01). “This nearly $5 million bipartisan infrastructure law investment will improve and expand Washington’s ferry system, helping ensure ferry networks are reliable and accessible in our communities.” 

“Having the federal government step up and assist Washington State Ferries in its efforts to improve service for folks in our region has been a priority for me – and for our community,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-06). “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the costs of these improvements won’t be borne just by folks in our neck of the woods, including local taxpayers and ferry passengers. Investments like this are winners for our economy!”

The BIL is Working for Washington Ferries

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed by Congress and signed by President Biden two years ago, provides record ferry funding through both dedicated annual funding, and competitive grants. In the first year of the law, Washington state received $42 million in dedicated yearly funding for its ferry system, the largest ferry system in the United States. In January 2023, FTA awarded $11.6 million in competitive grant funding to WSDOT for three projects:

In July, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg visited Mukilteo and Port Orchard to emphasize the importance of investing in reliable ferry service in Washington state. 

Additional Information

Since 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has invested $7.9 billion in Washington state with more than 460 specific projects identified for funding. For more information on how the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is working for Washington state, click here.

For more information on FTA’s Urbanized Area Passenger Ferry grant program, click here.