Panel ready to flush out passenger-only plans

ALKI POINT — Passenger-only ferry advocates from around the Puget Sound will congregate at Alki Point near Seattle July 2, and Kingston is no different. A handful of representatives have already committed to attend the panel hosted by Cascadia Discovery Institute to float the possibility of service connecting all of western Washington.

The project is being headed by CDI director Bruce Agnew, who said the panel is primarily there to hear different plans and begin brainstorming ways to bring it all together in a route system similar to the Mosquito Fleet.

“There are two things, one is to note the successful vote in King County...,” Agnew said. “That’s one area. The other issue is what’s going on around the Sound as far as interlocal agreements and how we might be able to pool resources. After the recent two electoral defeats in Kitsap County, we want to look at how strong the local support will be.”

Kingston resident Tom Waggoner will represent the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, Kingston Express Association manager Nels Sultan will describe their plan and Olympic Property Resource president Jon Rose will attend with his ideas.

“I think we’ll have a chance to present our plan and ideas,” Sultan said. “It’s kind of a fun event, at least that’s what Bruce described to me (Wednesday).”

Rose said he is looking forward to discussing plans for the future, but also highlighting systems already in place, such as the Sounder train to Seattle. Many North End residents don’t know enough about the train and it’s connection with the Kingston-Edmonds ferry to utilize it, and he said that needs to change.

“In the past, you could not get around Puget Sound with roads, you had to use water,” Rose said. “Now, you cannot get around by roads either, but instead of trees being in the way, it’s other cars. We need more solutions than just pouring more asphalt.”

If a system were to be put in place regarding passenger-only ferries, it would have to come from the different western Washington communities, Agnew said. The structure for an outside company to come in and set service up is not there, so the company needs support and plans from people like Waggoner, Sultan and Rose. Once the runs are in place, an organization could help maintain the routes.

“If the community can’t raise the money to support the passenger-only ferry, then it won’t work,” he said. “A Sound-wide system would be premature at this point and would not survive.”

Sultan and Rose said they are both looking forward to hearing the presentations from other areas and begin a discussion that could ultimately lead to a route from Kingston to Seattle.

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