Ferry Committee BUILD Grant Support


To Guemes Islanders:

In July, 2018, Skagit County Public Works submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requesting $10 million through their BUILD grant program to help purchase a new electric or electric-hybrid ferry. BUILD grants are designed to help communities improve their surface transportation systems. In awarding the grants, priority is given to rural communities for innovative projects that protect the environment, improve the safety and quality of life, maintain a state of good repair for public transportation, and foster economic competitiveness for rural residents. With the award of a $10 million BUILD grant, Skagit County believes they would have enough funding to finance the construction of a new ferry.

The Guemes Island Ferry Committee (GIFC), whose members are elected by islanders to represent them on matters regarding the operation of the Skagit County ferry, supports Skagit County's application for a BUILD grant.  We are sending the following letter of support to the USDOT.


To the Department of Transportation:

This year the Skagit County Department of Public Works submitted a BUILD grant application to help finance the replacement of the 39-year-old Guemes Island ferry with a new electric or electric-hybrid ferry. The aging M/V Guemes serves as the only public transportation and access to and from Guemes Island. As the formally elected citizen body for ferry matters, the Guemes Island Ferry Committee (GIFC) supports Skagit County’s application for a $10 million BUILD grant for many reasons including the following:

·         We are a small rural community whose population includes people who work full-time off island, families with young children, entrepreneurs, artists, and many seniors. We have a small country store with a few basic products and a gas pump. We depend on reliable ferry transportation to get us to medical appointments, to work and school, and for shopping errands and other activities. We rely on the ferry to bring repair and construction services and other supplies.

·         Our current ferry is aging. Unscheduled maintenance and service disruptions are now all too common. The ferry is often full leaving vehicles to wait for the next ferry or even the ferry after that.

·          The existing ferry is not ADA compliant. The walkways to the ferry are not covered and are steep and slippery in inclement weather. There are inadequate handrails. It is difficult to get a wheelchair into the passenger cabin.

  • We believe that an electric or electric-hybrid ferry is the best technology for future efficient operation and to protect our environment. This technology and these environmental concerns coincide with Washington State’s plans to convert their fleet of ferries to more environmentally sustainable energy sources. They view our modest ferry proposal as test case for their planning.


The GIFC understands that not every resident of our island is in favor of a new ferry. No plan for change is likely ever supported 100 percent by any community, but the GIFC completely agrees with Skagit County’s plan to replace the ferry if the funding can be secured. We hope you will agree and can help us achieve the funding necessary to replace our aging vessel with a modern, safe, capable alternative.


The Guemes Island Ferry Committee