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Health of our marine highway system at risk | Letter

May 1, 2013 · Updated 4:20 PM
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Have you ever had your life impacted by a cancelled ferry? Did you miss a flight? Have to stay overnight in Anacortes? Miss a medical procedure or appointment, a family event, a delivery for your business?

Most of us can say yes. We’ve lost opportunities, treatment, and money. Sometimes lots of money. And the frequency of ferry breakdowns is increasing. Witness the last couple weeks: three of five boats out of service. We have had the surcharge we paid (to build a fund for new boats) taken away and given to the disastrous floating bridge project. The rest of the ferry system has better on-time records, fewer breakdowns and cancelled runs, and other options when problems arise. They also have newer, cleaner boats and more galley service.

A ferry worker recently told me that the Kaleetan (a large ferry) is now doing the Bainbridge run because those folks wanted a boat with a galley that could make their lattes. Seriously!

At a time when the San Juans are being touted as one of the top destinations in the world and the nation, and we have received National Monument status, the health of our marine highway should be addressed.

The question is “what can we do about it?” Grousing to the ferry system might make us feel better but it doesn’t solve anything.

It is time for us to become the islands that know how to be the squeaky wheel. If we sit here and do nothing, nothing is what we will get. So let’s give Olympia an earful. Together.

If 1,000 of us would each make five or six phone calls in the next couple weeks, or send one email every day through May, Olympia would take notice. There is strength in numbers. The few minutes it would take to communicate is a small price to pay to get Olympia to sit up and take notice.

Please join me in doing a lot of communicating now through the month of May. Contact our representatives in Olympia, starting with Governor Inslee, who, when he was campaigning, said he would improve the health of the ferry system.

Our legislators, Kevin Ranker, Jeff Morris, and Kristine Lytton, also need to hear that we expect them to go to bat for us. Even if that means getting federal money to get us reliable boats. Our ferries are part of Washington’s highway system, and we need some road work done-ASAP!

Kevin Ranker: 360-786-7678 kevin.ranker@leg.wa.gov

Jeff Morris: 360-786-7970 jeff.morris@leg.wa.gov

Kristine Lytton: 360-786-7800 kristine.lytton@leg.wa.gov

Jay Inslee: 360-902-4111, email from the website: www.governor.wa.gov.

Carol Hooper

San Juan Island

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