Kingston group gets behind Port Townsend ferries

KINGSTON — During the Tuesday afternoon meeting of the Downtown Kingston Association, discussion turned from Kingston’s downtown to another ferry community and how success there could lead to more opportunities for passenger-only ferry service in the North End.

Since the deteriorated steel-class ferries were pulled out of operation and the Port Townsend-Keystone ferry run was cancelled, Washington State Ferries tried to maintain service there by offering a passenger-only route between Seattle and Port Townsend during the holidays. Jefferson County residents were extremely enthusiastic about it.

Upwards of 900 people were riding the ferry every day while it was in service, between Dec. 13, 2007 and Jan. 6, and the service was a faster way to get to Seattle than any other route, said DKA member Dave Wetter.

DKA member Sonny Woodward, a strong advocate for passenger-only service in Kingston, discovered, a Web site dedicated to maintaining the Port Townsend-Seattle connection. Woodward suggested it is a good opportunity for the Kingston group to come out in support of the service in a neighboring ferry town.

“As a part of the mitigation for the Port Townsend situation, they came up with running from Port Townsend to Keystone, though some people were somewhat satisfied, it was not for tourists,” he said. “For further mitigation they have a ferry to Seattle, which ended yesterday or Sunday. I found it pretty cool, and a lot of people used it.”

By speaking up in support of maintaining the route, Woodward said he’s hoping more attention will be given to the need for a passenger-only ferry in Kingston. The numbers from Port Townsend speak strongly to commuters and visitors craving a new method of transportation.

“That’s part of (U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks’) contingent,” Wetter said. “I’ve seen him apply a lot of pressure to get something done locally with local money.”

“That would be beneficial,” added DKA member Dan Martin. If Kingston becomes involved in supporting other passenger-only ferry efforts, attention could again focus on the North End needs.

The DKA passed a motion unanimously to support the Seattle2PT efforts, and Woodward also encouraged members to write individual letters for the Port Townsend group’s letter writing campaign. He said Jefferson County residents and WSF were buoyed by the immediate success of the passenger-only route to Seattle, especially during the holidays when residents were able to get to shops and venues in the city. City dwellers could also easily drop in for a day of shopping in Port Townsend, something that business owners hoped would happen after losing the foot traffic from Whidbey Island residents who usually take the Keystone ferry over to holiday shop.

“What they need help with is, in the next two to two-and-a-half years, to get the route back,” Woodward said. “They saw immediate results, and are now hoping to get a ferry built and going down there. There’s an e-mail petition and then it gets sent to the governor.”

As of Jan. 5, the Web site had reached 2,400 signatures on the petition to keep the ferry connection, and efforts continue. Woodward feels strongly that if the Seattle service is reinstated in Port Townsend, Kingston could become a stop on the route and it will become apparent to state government how much residents are behind a similar service for the North End.

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