Commissioners accepted the bid of Ice Floe LLC, doing business as Nichols Brothers Boatbuilders in the amount of $5.68 million.
The bid was higher than predicted, and when added to other costs needed to prepare the Puget Island landing for the new, larger ferry, the county faced a $1.1 million cost over run. To address that problem, county officials contacted funding agencies and were successful in finding increased funding.
Public Works Director Pete Ringen and commission Chair Blair Brady attended a special meeting of the County Road Administration Board (CRAB) last week, and that board quickly approved an increase of $250,000. Also, the county may "program advance Regional Surface Transportation Programs Funds in the amount of $389,673 toward the project," Ringen told the county commission.
Finally, the Department of Transportation will loan the county $1.1 million at no interest. The county will need to pay back the loan over eight years, but the increased funding will make it financially feasible for county, and "Ferry Capital Improvement Funds from the CRAB will be sought which may cover a significant portion of the local share," Ringen said.
Nichols Brothers will construct the new ferry, named after former skipper and owner Oscar Bergseng, at their Freeland boatyard on Whidbey Island. Delivery will be in February, 2015, which, Ringen said, is timed to coincide with improvements to the ramps at Westport and Puget Island and dredging of the channel leading to the Island landing.