Ferries rerouted for canal project

HOOD CANAL — Temporary passenger-only ferry services scheduled for the 2009 Hood Canal Bridge project will no longer be routed to Port Gamble.

The current preferred site for the passenger-only service is four miles south of the bridge in the Lofall neighborhood, said Becky Hixson, spokesperson for the Hood Canal Bridge Project. WSDOT has met with the Lofall community but will not have any more formal meetings, Hixson said.

“Many seem in favor of the potential passenger dock,” she said. “There won’t be a lot of traffic in and out. There will be buses to pick up and drop off passengers but that is the only new traffic the neighborhood will see.”

According to a press release from Washington State Department of Transportation, the decision stems from environmental concerns for Port Gamble Bay.

Hixson said a joint evaluation by the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Department of Natural Resources and Department of Ecology determined the bay quality not suitable to withstand the additional ferry traffic.

“Because of the history with the sawmill, there is a lot of accumulation of wood chips and debris,” said Russ McMillan, Puget Sound initiative coordinator for Department of Ecology. “The site where the passenger ferry dock was proposed is fairly shallow and the boats could disturb the settlement there.”

Doug Quade, Chief Executive Officer for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, said the site didn’t make a lot of sense to be routed out of Port Gamble.

“Why wouldn’t you go straight across, like the bridge does, instead of traveling three times the distance to Port Gamble?” Quade said.

Hixson said the environmental design and timeline has yet to be evaluated but the change of ferry venues won't postpone the bridge’s reconstruction.

“We are working as hard as we can,” she said. “We are definitely going to meet our May through June closure date for the six-week project.”

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