The future of a vessel that serves the Sidney-Anacortes route is still up in the air.
As budget discussions continue, it remains unclear if Washington State officials will fund the repairs.
On Monday morning Washington State Ferries (WSF) spokesperson Ian Sterling said none of the three circulating budgets currently include funding to repair the MV Elwha, one of two vessels certified to serve the international route, along with the MV Chelan. That vessel is said to receive full funding.
Sterling told the Peninsula News Review last week that the current absence of repair funding for the vessel in all three budgets suggests that the Elwha would be effectively retired. This said, he did not rule out the possibility of a late turn in the talks.
Service is set to resume March 29 with the MV Chelan, but if WSF retires the 53-year-old MV Elwha, the Chelan would become the only vehicle certified to make the international crossing – a situation that would threaten the reliability of service between the two communities. WSF would lack a back-up vessel.
Concerns about long-term funding for the route coincide with more immediate concerns about the spread of COVID-19 – with Washington State an ongoing hot spot for the global virus. As of Monday morning, Washington State has 136 positive cases with 19 reported deaths.
Sterling said when sailings resume at the end of the month, WSF will follow “robust cleaning procedures” in-between each and every sailing.
A spokesperson for the federal agency in charge of patrolling Sidney’s international ferry terminal said she could not comment on possible plans concerning COVID-19 containment once sailings between Sidney and Anacortes resume at the end of the month.
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