Ferry funding legislation passes, moves to Senate
March 9, 2023
Legislation has passed the Washington State House of Representatives that would address the operation and maintenance deficit of the Wahkiakum County ferry.
Rep. Joel McEntire, prime sponsor of the legislation, House Bill 1782, says the bill is not only about getting people to work, but a public safety issue as well.
"The ferry operates in the far southwest corner of the state, but is important to many communities. Many workers in Washington and Oregon use the ferry daily for work," said McEntire, R-Cathlamet. "This is also a public safety issue. There are two large bridges that span the Columbia River, the Astoria Bridge and the Rainier Bridge that crosses from Longview. Between those two bridges there are thousands of people who live there, and there are the great cliffs along State Route 4. It isn't uncommon for landslides to block one or both ways out, making it impossible to get to either bridge. People rely on this ferry when medical or other emergencies come up."
The bill would:
· increase state support of the Wahkiakum County ferry service to 85% of the operating deficit.
· remove the restriction that reimbursement may not exceed amounts appropriated for the biennium.
"This is an important piece of legislation to keep a vital transportation route open in the southwest corner of our state," said McEntire.
The bill passed the House unanimously and now heads to the Senate for consideration.
The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn April 23.