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Bozeman fires salvo on ferries

Mayor Cary Bozeman - Courtesy photo
Mayor Cary Bozeman
— image credit: Courtesy photo

By CHARLES MELTON

Editor

After watching ferry service in Bremerton go from unsatisfactory to just short of disastrous Mayor Cary Bozeman issued a challenge to everyone involved including Gov. Christine Gregoire in an e-mail Wednesday morning.

“First of all as a elected public official in Kitsap County I feel compelled to apologize to the ferry riding public for being part of a elected delegation that has allowed the financial and structural demise of a once wonderful Washington state ferry system,” Bozeman wrote. “I remember as a young boy riding the Kalakala from Seattle to Bremerton, what a great experience. It is not the experience our Bremerton riders have today.”

The ferry system is in a crisis, but that crisis has been building for the past 20 years due to the unwillingness of both the governor’s office and the state Legislature to face the problems, he said.

“...(the system) could collapse unless the officials charged with the responsibility of operating the system come together and demonstrate courageous leadership,” he continued.

The first thing that must happen is that Gov. Gregoire must provide the necessary leadership to resolve the ferry crisis, Bozeman stated.

“The buck stops at her desk,” he wrote. “Sec-ond, the nine legislators who represent Bremerton and Kitsap County must come together as a body and fight like heck to provide adequate funding for the ferry system.”

Their efforts must match those used to fight the NASCAR project in 2006, which proved successful, he wrote.

“Third, we must keep working on reinstating the passenger only ferry system to provide an alternative to the Washington state ferry system for our Kitsap riders. I believe we can bring this service back in the next 24 months and we are working on it everyday,” Bozeman concluded. “This is a challenge that will be solved, there is no option.”

Shortly after Bozeman’s e-mail, the ferry system announced that full car ferry service will be restored to Bremerton on Feb. 19, when the 188-car ferry Walla Walla joins the 124-car ferry Kitsap on the route.

This weekend the Kitsap will be joined by the 124-car ferry Chelan to provide regular service between Bremerton and Seattle and on Feb. 18, the Kitsap and the passenger-only ferry Snohomish, as well as the two passenger vessels from Victoria Express will provide service.

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