Washington State Ferries (WSF) is to commence construction of its fourth Olympic-class ferry this month.
With an estimated budget of around $122m, Vigor Industrial will construct the ship and is scheduled to deliver it in mid-2018.
The project will be funded through the Connecting Washington transportation funding package and the Washington State Transportation Commission has issued a public process to determine the name of the fourth ferry.
WSF chief staff Elizabeth Kosa said: "Thanks to state lawmakers and critical funds from Connecting Washington, we are able to meet some of the ferry system’s most urgent needs, including building this new ferry."
The Olympic-class architecture is modelled on the Issaquah-class ships. Each ship has a capacity to carry 144 vessels.
The new fleet will replace the existing ships dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. The ships, fitted with the new design, are expected to augment the safety and efficiency of the fleet.
The ships will be equipped with emergency evacuation capabilities, Disabilities Act-compliant elevators and fire suppression systems. Cleaner burning engines and low emission fuels are expected to reduce the chances of fuel spills and hence preserve the
Kosa said: "Our top priority is keeping the ferry system safe and reliable for the millions of commuters, freight haulers and travellers who dependon us every year."
Additionally, the ship’s hull will be designed specifically to reduce noise and a wider deck lane will facilitate a convenient loading and unloading of vehicles as well as an easier access to the cars by the on boarders.
WSF’s first Olympic-class vessel Tokitae was delivered in June 2014 and is currently servicing the Mukilteo / Clinton route.
The second ferry, Samish, started cruising on the Anacortes / San Juan Islands route in June 2014.
The third ferry, Chimacum, is under construction and is scheduled to be delivered in early 2017. It will operate on the Seattle / Bremerton route.
Image: WSF’s first Olympic-class vessel Tokitae. Photo: courtesy of Daniel Schwen / Wikimedia Commons.