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Sen. Hunt floats idea of ferry service between Olympia and Seattle

Staff file: A state ferry bound passes boaters near Port Townsend’s downtown docks in 2006. An Olympia lawmaker has proposed the study of passenger-only ferry service between Olympia and Seattle.
Staff file: A state ferry bound passes boaters near Port Townsend’s downtown docks in 2006. An Olympia lawmaker has proposed the study of passenger-only ferry service between Olympia and Seattle. sbloom@theolympian.com

A South Sound lawmaker has a suggestion for easing some of Interstate 5’s traffic woes: a passenger-only ferry run between Olympia and Seattle.

Sen. Sam Hunt, D-Olympia, pre-filed proposed Senate Bill 6054 on Dec. 26. If passed into law, it calls for the Department of Transportation to launch a study of the idea.

“The study shall include consideration of a direct fast service and a slower service with additional limited stops,” the proposal stated. “The department shall work with stakeholders, including origin and destination transit agencies, cities and transportation planning organizations, and submit a final study to the transportation committees of the legislature by Jan. 7, 2019.”

Hunt's office told KING 5 that a ferry could use existing docks at the Port of Olympia and could include stops in Steilacoom and Tacoma’s Point Defiance, among other cities. Participating counties could share the costs.

“A compact, modern-day fleet of passenger ferries running up the Puget Sound could offer an attractive alternative to commuting on I-5, as well as encouraging tourism between the Seattle area and the South Puget Sound,” Hunt's office wrote in a document explaining the bill.

Monday was the first day of the Legislature’s 2018 regular session in Olympia.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433, @Lisa_Pemberton

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