The Port of Kingston will be paying $631,621 to Foss Maritime in order to refurbish the 90-foot-long barge which will serve as Kitsap Transit’s dock when it begins fast ferry service to Seattle later this year.
Port of Kingston Executive Director Jim Pivarnik said the expense is a necessary one but ultimately one that is higher than the port initially wanted to spend.
“We had budgeted $550,000 when we originally talked on this; since then, we’ve made quite a few changes to how the barge is going to actually accommodate two boats and a couple of other things,” Pivarnik said. “That’s added about $80,000 to the price.”
The barge isn’t the only six-figure check that the port will be cutting related to the fast ferry service. Pivarnik noted that the port of is nearly finished with a $300,000 project to restore and remodel the walkways leading to the barge.
When asked whether the port could just buy a new barge that satisfies Kitsap Transit’s needs, Pivarnik said “no.”
“We had that priced. It’s about $2.1 million for a new barge,” the director said. “We already own this thing, so just putting $600,000 into it makes perfect sense. With this done, it’ll last at least another 15 years.”
Pivarnik said the location of the barge offers some unique challenges that can only be hurdled by using a more expensive, heavy-duty barge.
“This is a very rough harbor. We are right next to a ferry terminal, and when the ferry boat comes in hot, it kicks up quite a wake,” Pivarnik said. “A standard light-duty barge is just not going to serve the purpose. This barge is 90 feet long, 50 feet wide and seven feet deep, so it is a heavy-duty barge.
Pivarnik said the option of much cheaper barges has been raised to him before.
“I get that all the time. I’ll have a citizen come in and say, ‘Well, I saw a used barge over there for $100,000 and you can just replace it,’” Pivarnik said. “That’s just not true.”
In regard to the barge’s inevitable deterioration regardless of how much the port pays, Pivarnik said it will be necessary to pursue grant funding in the future in order to pay for a replacement.
“As I was telling Kitsap Transit, in the next five years we really need to be tapping grant sources and things to build another barge. What we’re hoping on is as this becomes more successful, that we’ll be able to put in federal transit grants that will allow us to purchase a new barge, whether that’s 10, 12 or 15 years from now.
“The lifespan of these things isn’t that long,” he added. “One of the things we might want to consider 10 years from now is, instead of a barge, actually having a concrete dock – something that will have a lot more longevity than a floating boat, basically.”