Aqua Express gets final start-up permit

KINGSTON — While Aqua Express’ date for the first sailing of its new foot ferry service between Kingston and Seattle has yet to be set, everything else is pretty much on course.

Aqua Express General Manager Brian Grantham said Thursday that he and Port of Kingston Harbor Master Tom Berry were expecting to pick up the final permit from the Army Corps of Engineers that day for construction of the passenger-only ferry docking facility. Grantham also had plans to establish a construction startup date and an initial sailing date Friday afternoon.

“The good news is the final permit has been signed,” Grantham said. “That’s most important.”

In the meantime, while waiting for permits from federal, state and local agencies the past few months, Grantham has been hiring employees, establishing marketing, food and beverages services for the vessel and working with local companies to provide those services. Local businesses include S&J Graphics and The Coffee Exchange of Kingston, Dan Youra Studios of Port Hadlock and Printery Communications of Port Townsend. Caicos Construction of Port Gamble was awarded the bid to build the docking facility, Grantham said.

“They were the best pick for this job and it’s great they are local,” Grantham said. “Again, Aqua Express is trying to stick to our word (in keeping with local businesses).”

Upgrades were also recently made to the company’s passenger-only ferry, the former Washington State Ferry, Tyee.

The engines were rebuilt and new seats were installed in the lower cabin. On Friday afternoon, the vessel was expected to complete “sea-trials” on the route between Kingston and Seattle to break in the new engines. Engineers were also expected to test the wireless Internet signals on board.

Grantham expects to identify where and when people can purchase ticket books and monthly passes by the middle of next week.

The company is also looking for a mascot and is doing so by holding a contest within the North Kitsap School District’s junior high and elementary schools for the best-dressed mascot. The character must be wearing a life-vest and the winner receives $2,000 — $1,000 for their classroom and $1,000 for their school. Entry forms are due Dec. 17 to Grantham.


Kitsap Transit will revise North End commuter bus schedules to coincide with Aqua Express’ service:

• #60 Suquamish — This bus will serve Miller Bay Road, the Suquamish Park & Ride and Bayside Community Church Park & Ride, meeting the new POF morning departures and evening arrivals.

• #61 Indianola Commuter — This bus will serve Miller Bay Road, Indianola and George’s Corner Park & Ride, meeting the new POF morning departures and evening arrivals.

• #66 Hansville Commuter — The #66 will be timed to serve each new POF morning departure, plus three morning WSF Kingston-to-Edmonds departures. It will serve the new POF evening arrivals, plus three evening WSF Edmonds-to-Kingston arrivals.

• #91 Kingston/Bainbridge — This route will serve two morning ferries in Bainbridge and three evening ferries in Bainbridge when Aqua Express is not operating. Four mid-day trips will be added to this route between Bainbridge and Kingston to offer commuters a way home during the day.

Detailed schedules will be provided in advance of the service start.

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