Vashon will see reduced ferry service for at least one week and the state may return a retired Vashon ferry to service after an accident put another ferry in the system out of service indefinitely.
On Nov. 4, an engine on the Walla Walla, which serves the Kingston-Edmonds route, was badly damaged during in accident that occurred during routine maintenance. The Walla Walla is now out of service indefinitely while the state works to replace the motor, which will take at least four months, according to a WSF news release.
Ferry officials say that in the coming months, ferries will be shifted throughout the system in an effort to maintain service while the Walla Walla is repaired. As part of the shuffle, Vashon’s north-end route is tentatively scheduled to have the 87-car Klahowya replaced by the 64-car Salish during the first week in January, and may see future impacts as well.
Marta Coursey, a spokeswoman for WSF, said the state, at the urging of lawmakers, is also reconsidering its sale of the Rhododenron. The Rhododendron was retired from the Point Defiance-Tahlequah route in January and put up for auction earlier this month.
Coursey said legislators who have learned of the accident on the Walla Walla have asked the state to consider bringing the Rhody back to service.
Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, was quoted in The Kitsap Sun as saying the Rhododendron should be pulled from the auction block immediately to free up the Chetzemoka as a “gap filler.”
“We cannot afford any further loss of service on the Bremerton or other runs,” he said.
Coursey said WSF is now moving forward with the online auction of the Rhododendron — which as of Sunday had not garnered any bids — while also evaluating the possibility of returning it to service.