Letters to the Editor

High costs of Chetzemoka don't add up | Letter to the Editor

It would have been interesting to hear specifically why Washington State Ferries attributed schedule to the cost increases. Generally, a fast schedule doesn’t contribute to higher costs — unless there are lots and lots of overtime shifts. I would seriously suspect design changes, especially if design was incomplete when construction began. Every design change is a cost increase. The lower cost of the successive boats suggests that design issues were worked out on the Chetzemoka. The only way to tell is to ask WSF to disclose the construction documents to review against a schedule.  The Legislature would do well to contract with a commercial marine surveyor to do a forensic analysis as lessons learned.

In WSF’s defense, they simply don’t do enough ferry construction to get good at designing ships; they aren’t naval architects. So a design-bid-build procurement is the wrong model, especially with too few qualified shipyards. The Legislature should consider a negotiated bid process similar to what many public agencies use (as Vashon High School is now) in one-off designs. That gives the shipyard a role in reviewing the design and offering cost-saving recommendations but keeps them from change-ordering the project to death.


— Brad Shinn


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