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September 18, 2006

Washington State rethinks ferry building plan

Washington State Ferries plans to build four 130-car ferries appear to be up in the air again.

Washington state law requires the vessels be built in-state. Washington State Department of Transportation went through a selection process that saw Todd Shipyards chosen after it was determined to be the only eligible yard financially qualified to build the vessels.

In June, however, the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings issued a ruling that reversed a notice denying J.M.Martinac Shipbuilding financial prequalification to bid for the newbuildings and granted the shipbuilder that prequalification.

Washington State Department of Transportation said it would appeal that decision. But the Seattle Times reports that the department will instead reopen the bidding process and will put together an expert panel to oversee the process.

The newspaper report says that, as well as J.M. Martinac, Nichols Brothers may be among the bidders and that the state may take the opportunity to up the size of the ferries from 130 car to 144 car capacity.