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Southworth riders blast WSF plans

A decidedly frustrated group of Southworth ferry riders shared some decidedly strong opinions of two options for future service presented by Washington State Ferries officials Monday night.

“This is baloney. Neither of these options works and you know it,” said Jane Bedinger, a member of the Southworth Ferry Advisory Committee, addressing WSF director David Moseley and planning director Ray Deardorf in a packed room at South Colby Elementary School. “The first one is way too expensive, and the second is too stupid. This is incompetent.”

Bedinger was referring to “two visions” of the ferry system the Washington State Department of Transportation’s mapped out for the next 22 years.

The first, Plan A, would continue the current level of service and eventually “upsize” certain routes while incurring $3.5 billion worth of debt by 2030.

Plan B calls for “shrinking the fleet” of vessels and cutting back on routes, such as having only two boats serve Southworth-Vashon-Fauntleroy and one serve Bremerton, yet still leaving the agency $1.4 billion in the red.

“We are not recommending Plan B,” said Moseley. “Hopefully we have teed that up in such a way that the Legislature can effectively deal with this (funding issue) this year.”

Deardorf said the two plans should be looked at as if they were two “goal posts,” with Plan A on one side and Plan B on the other, and neither considered ideal.

Of the more than 100 riders who attended, none who spoke said they approved of either plan, and many accused WSF officials of not adequately performing their jobs.

One attendee, who said she had commuted on the WSF for 24 years, said she felt Kitsap County residents had a case for a class-action lawsuit for not being provided adequate access to the state’s marine highway system.

Still others, including 26th District State Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor), said they wanted a third option.

“We need a proposal that respects our commuters, our community and our taxpayers,” said Kilmer, explaining that he hears his constituents saying they want more service, not less.

“We ask you to hear us,” he said, “really hear us, and come up with something that respects (us).”

A representative from 26th District Rep. Larry Seaquist’s (D-Gig Harbor) office then announced to the crowd that the lawmaker was “very concerned” about the two plans presented and was organizing a citizens’ group to “write a new plan” to present to the Legislature.

She said the group plans to meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday at the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton, and the public is invited.

After Monday’s meeting, Deardorf and Moseley had five more meetings to attend in Bainbridge Island, Kingston, the San Juan Islands, Anacortes and West Seattle.

After collecting public input, Deardorf said WSF would be presenting their plans to the legislature “at the end of this month.”

In response to attendees who expressed concern about not being allowed to ask questions Monday night, Moseley said he “responds to every e-mail” and all questions will be posted on the agency’s website. Email questions to: moseled@wsdot.wa.gov

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