Al Gilson, Communications Manager
WSDOT Eastern Region
2714 N. Mayfair, spokane, WA 99207
The new vessel for the State Route 21 Keller Ferry route is just 17 days away from her inaugural sailing. The new 116 foot-long vessel, named the Sanpoil, will begin serving the route across the Columbia River on Wednesday, Aug. 14, following a public celebration hosted by the Washington State Department of Transportation.
The public is invited to join the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and WSDOT representatives as they formally Christen the new 20-car ferry. In addition, members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation will provide a blessing for the new boat.
The traditional vessel bottle-breaking will be the highlight of the event. Sanpoil Tribal Elder Jarred has been selected to sponsor the vessel and will break the ceremonial bottle on the hull.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 14
Keller Ferry south shore terminal (16 miles north of Wilbur, WA on SR 21)
Carpooling to the event is strongly encouraged as parking at the terminal is extremely limited.
Following the ceremony and public viewing of the new boat, the Sanpoil will begin her regular service, crossing the Columbia River (Lake Roosevelt), providing a vital connection between Lincoln County and Ferry County on SR 21. The ferry will be in operation seven days a week, from 6 a.m. until midnight.
“This new ferry vessel meets all the latest US Coast Guard requirements and is expected to provide decades of reliable service,” said Mike Frucci, WSDOT acting regional administrator. “The Sanpoil is also more fuel-efficient, carries an additional eight passenger vehicles per trip, and can handle longer trailer combinations as compared to the recently retired Martha S.”
Construction of this new ferry vessel was made possible through a funding partnership between WSDOT and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation.
The Sanpoil will replace the Martha S., which has served the route since September 1948. The Sanpoil is the fifth state-operated vessel to serve the route that WSDOT took over in 1931. The history of a ferry-crossing at this location goes back to the 1890’s.
Foss Maritime of Seattle is the prime contractor for construction of the $12 million vessel. The Max J. Kuney Company of Spokane is constructing the $2 million terminal ramp reconfiguration.
For more information about Washington’s newest ferry, visit the project website.